Queensland faces hospitality staff crisis with 9000 jobs to fill by 2020

19 May 2018
World Tourism Forum Lucerne Talent Boost 2018
World Tourism Forum Lucerne Talent Boost 2018

This article was originally published by The Brisbane Times, on 19 May 2018 by Toby Crockford.

Queensland is facing a hospitality staffing crisis, with proposed Brisbane tourism developments set to create 9000 extra jobs in two years.

Experts say working in the tourism industry has gained a bad image, with poor pay and long hours the dominant characteristics, and in order to fill the positions by 2020 the industry needs to turn itself around and become an attractive source of employment for the next generation.

Tourism projects planned during the next five years including Queen’s Wharf, Howard Smith Wharves and the proposed Brisbane Live will play a major role in the creation of the new jobs.

Brisbane hosted a world tourism forum on Friday with international experts, academics, industry leaders and government officials discussing the crisis and potential solutions.

World Tourism Forum Lucerne chief executive Martin Barth said the conference, launched in 2009, aimed to bring together members of the public and private industry as well as academia and investors.

Brisbane was chosen to host the forum after the University of Queensland expressed interest in bringing the Swiss institution Down Under.

Mr Bath said it was 15 years since he last visited Brisbane and was impressed by the changes in place as well as the proposed developments.

"I have seen good, sustainable development," he said.

"I was impressed walking through South Bank, I saw not just tourists but people who already live here enjoying the beaches, barbecues, swimming areas, opera and theatre."

Mr Bath said the forum was "a little step" towards realising the importance of communication between industry members in order to address the problem.

"Queensland and Brisbane have to make sure to invest in the future generation of young talent as well as the bricks and buildings," he said.

"You have to make sure you have the right people and talents to work day and night in these restaurants, hotels and markets.

"The image of working within the tourism industry has changed.

"A poor salary and long hours may be right, but there are also business and international opportunities, so let's tell that story and show the world how interesting the industry is.

"It's not just long hours and weekends, let's see what is important to the young generation and see what we need to do to make it sexy and attractive for them."

University of Queensland senior tourism lecturer Dr Gabby Walters said the industry has faced the issues discussed at the forum, high staff turnover and short-term job prospects, for decades.

"One of the things we need to do is change perceptions of working in the industry," she said.

"We need to create good experiences, distract from the subservient roles and create an image of the industry as a life-changing experience.

"University and technical colleges definitely have a role to play, but we can’t promote those programs unless the industry promotes itself as a viable career path.

"This was a timely event in the sense of the state of things happening here in Brisbane, where we need to think about the future."

Read the article here.