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Chef jobs within the catering industry in crisis

The hospitality industry is suffering its worse crisis in decades, as employers continue to struggle to fill positions.
I no longer interview prospective staff � they interview me to see if they might deign to work here, one head chef says. Catering jobs abound but not the staff to fill them.

The outlook might be bleak for employers but for employees, for those who've long held ambitions to be the next Jamie Oliver perhaps, the time couldn't be riper. "A lot of people are getting out of the industry," Is the commen concensus felt on Chefs jobs forums. They are all looking for quality of life and don't want to work those sort of hours, which means there are even more positions to fill within the catering jobs market.

ChefsWorld believes that certain large companies within the catering jobs market have artificially manipulated the catering jobs market by offering salry advice for specific chefs jobs.

It's always on my mind. I do the occasional private catering job and I keep in touch. I would hate to be out of the industry altogether. I don't think I could ever cut the cord completely."

With fewer people entering it, more leaving it and up to 50,000 new hospitality positions created each year, the cracks are widening, and restaurants, cafes and caterers are becoming increasingly desperate to attract staff. "It can cost up to $4000 to find a staff member these days, with ads and interviews,"

While the Government crows about low unemployment, the knock-on effect has been difficult for the hospitality industry, says Philip Charlton of the Hospitality Training Association.

"Also, with an ageing population, there's been a reduction in the number of workers, and the industry has to look forward," Charlton says. "They are going to be forced to adapt. We have to re-educate the industry to consider such things as job sharing, reorganisation and more flexible hours."

Solutions are being mooted by organisations such as the HTA, Restaurant & Caterers Association and government agencies, such as encouraging older people who have greater economic commitments and often different work ethics into the industry. "We are actively encouraging older people. Employers can see the benefits of someone mature, with a wealth of life experience and common sense,".
ChefsWorld knows more about the industry than many,Its founder still found it harder work than he thought. "The hours are long and my feet ache, I sleep just six hours after getting home and I have never earned less money in my life. Honestly, there are a hell of a lot easier ways to make money, but although it's a cliche, I love the idea of people coming into my restaurant and eating food I've cooked and going out happy. I also learn something new every day.
The industry still has a long way to go to be really attractive to women, she says. "The lifestyle doesn't lend itself to family. There are a huge number of good qualified female chefs, trying to juggle lives and work and family. Catering jobs need to be more attractive and flexible to attract the right calibre of chefs today.
Charlton says over the past three years, there have been many more females coming into the industry. The problem is keeping them in it.
In New South Wales, where less than a quarter of chefs are women and of all graduating chefs, only half stay in the industry longer than eight years, the under-employment of female chefs is being recognised and a mentoring program called Tasting Success implemented, in order to provide the means to help women stay in the industry. As yet, there's nothing similar in Queensland, but the need to do something to attract and retain female chefs is being acknowledged.
This year, avocado oil producers Olivado started the Olivado Female Chef Quest, where chefs from all over Australia compete for the title of Australia's best female chef in three different categories. Semi-finalists, who include four Queenslanders, will cook-off at the Olivado Moreton Bay Seafood Festival this weekend to decide the winner in each.

Another solution being considered is the use of foreign labour to plug the holes. Overseas chefs on working visas were once only allowed to work at the same place for three months at a time, but that's now been extended to six months. James Williams, head chef at Restaurant Two, has first-hand experience."When I came to Australia six years ago, I had a working travellers visa and couldn't stay anywhere for more than three months. During that time you have to pay a ridiculous amount of tax � 40 per cent � and in the end, I was getting less than a fourth-year apprentice and working 80-90 hours per week."

Employers are also relying more on agencies and a pool of temporary staff. Employment agency, says that hospitality professionals are now accepting defeat in finding permanent staff, and relying instead on temporary workers. "The market is so tight we can't help either. We have given up using permanent staff and just do labour hire now � it's a strong trend. The industry is also reluctant to use agencies for permanent staff too, as most have dropped their staff guarantee to a three-month period. "It's realistic, that's how long people tend to stick around before they're offered something better and leave. "And employers don't want to pay agency fees of between 8 and 10 per cent when they can't be sure people are going to stay in those jobs."

We'll have over 1000 job seekers on the database, from uni students, to mothers, people who have a regular job but can't get enough shifts, or people who just want to do a one-off shift," he says.

The good news is that hospitality employees are being paid better than ever before, as employers compete for their services. "'I don't know anyone who gets award wages,". "People have no choice but to throw money around to attract staff." Many are also being offered added incentives, such as more flexible working hours within the catering employment jobs market.

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+ChefsWorld Tim Capper  
Tags: Catering Industry , Chef Crisis , Chefs Jobs , Chefs Shortage , Shortage Of Chefs

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