Demand for qualified and skilled chefs is heating up in Australia, with the profession added to the Australian Skilled Occupation List. The move comes amidst a period of particularly booming growth for the food industry and highlights the positive employment potential for graduates of hospitality courses in the near future.
According to John Hart, chief executive officer for the Restaurant & Catering Industry Association (R&CA), the tourism and hospitality sector contributes $128 billion to the overall economy each year.
However, he says the sector is also going through a current shortfall of 35,800 jobs – a number that is set to increase by 2015 to reach 56,000. This has created a significant number of opportunities for Australian students of chef courses, as it opens up the door to a growing number of jobs across the country. With more jobs available for skilled cooks than ever, the future is looking bright for anyone looking to sharpen their knives and get working in the kitchen.
In a statement released June 10, Mr Hart said "employment in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services is projected to grow by more than 42,000 jobs or 8.1 per cent to November 2017".
"The rate of employment growth in this sector is expected to be higher than any other sector in the Australian economy."
R&CA research shows kitchen hands, waiters, cafe and restaurant managers and chefs are already some of the most sought after occupations within the hospitality industry. This trend is expected to continue beyond 2015 as well, suggesting now is the perfect time to enter the industry and carve out a chef career.
As of February 2010, the accommodation and food services industry in Australia employs approximately 788,000 staff members – equating to around 6.9 per cent of the total workforce. In addition to this, further research reveals that employment in this industry has grown at a rate of 3.5 per cent per annum over the past five years.
Chefs aren't the only ones with strong employment potential, however. A 2010 report prepared by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations highlights bakers, pastry cooks, butchers and smallgoods makers and chefs/cooks as some of the skills shortages being faced by the food industry in Australia.
If you have a passion for food and a desire to make your mark on the industry, there's never been a better time to consider vocational courses in this field.