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Skills shortage Australia

A SHORTAGE of chefs in the Bendigo area has reached crisis level, with some restaurateurs unable to fill vacancies for months.

BRIT hospitality course co-ordinator Robert Scott said hostile environments, unsociable hours and high-pressure circumstances are some of the issues behind the skills shortage.

"The burn-out rate is quite horrendous," he said.

"A huge number of eating establishments have blossomed in Bendigo over the past decade, but the number of qualified people is limited."

Mr Scott said the drop-out rate for students enrolled in the apprenticeship program at BRIT was about 20 per cent.

"The intake of first-year apprentices this year was 22, and there jlare 13 apprentices in their third year."

"A lot of people coming into the hospitality industry are impatient. If they can't perceive where they should be in a short time, they get very disillusioned.

"And people tend to fall into this profession, rather than see it as a career move."

The owner of Barzurk restaurant, Matt Connolly, said he was so desperate for staff he started to advertise in Daylesford, Ballarat, Echuca and Shepparton, as well as Bendigo.

"And I only got about half a dozen calls back.

"There are just not enough people doing the trade - there's a real skills shortage."

Mr Connolly said the problem also lay with older chefs.

Mr Connolly said that by the time chefs got to about 35 years old they were burnt out and wanted to get out of the trade.

He agreed with Mr Scott that Bendigo had experienced a boom in the hospitality industry.

"Supply and demand is a huge thing, but are there more chefs?

"I don't think there are."

Rising Sun Hotel owner Pat Sheehan said the reason for the crisis was that young people were able to find jobs that had more suitable hours or better conditions.

"I've been advertising for almost three weeks, with virtually no response," he said.

"It's not just a local issue, but a state-wide issue.

"There are just not enough people coming through who want to work in that environment."

The State Government's Regional Skills Shortage Survey, which was released in 2006, showed that many positions remained unfilled in Bendigo's hospitality sector.

Of the 142 hospitality vacancies advertised over a 12-month period, 18 per cent were unfilled double the amount when compared with other industries in Bendigo.

The survey also showed that 25 per cent of the hospitality sector was struggling to retain staff.

Mr Scott said a solution to the problem was hard to find, but apprentices needed to remain motivated and the courses had to be as interesting as possible.

"Employers also need to be sympathetic to staff � and they need support from the general public as well."


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