Australia’s ‘toxic kitchen culture’ to cause major chef shortage

A University of Queensland researcher believes “toxic kitchen culture” is partly to blame for a predicted shortage of almost 60,000 chefs in Australia by 2023.

About 80 apprentices interviewed in Brisbane and Melbourne, aged between 17 and their mid-30s, had experienced sexual violence threats, bullying and intimidation tactics that led to “fearfulness” in their job.

A former chef and UQ researcher Richard Robinson is calling on the hospitality industry to "step up" in breaking the toxic kitchen culture in Australia.
A former chef and UQ researcher Richard Robinson is calling on the hospitality industry to “step up” in breaking the toxic kitchen culture in Australia.CREDIT:JESSICA SHAPIRO

Apprentices from Sydney would be interviewed in the coming weeks to add to the data being collected by associate professor and UQ research fellow Richard Robinson.

He had interviewed more than 40 chefs in the past year, including TAFE cookery teachers, for the ongoing analysis into the mental health and wellbeing of chefs.

Dr Robinson said the culture was partly to blame for high staff turnover rates and apprentices leaving the industry, following baby boomers retiring and the natural decline of enrolments.

His research, funded by William Angliss Institute, showed hospitality had one of the lowest retention rates of any industry.

“What we’ve increasingly discovered through our research is mental health and wellbeing with chefs, is they are extremely vulnerable and threatened by this toxic kitchen culture,” Dr Robinson said.

“It’s quite frightening for the youth of today because throughout their schooling, parenting and sports clubs, they have been conditioned to identify harassment and bullying and they have been given the tools to sort it out but somehow when they enter these kitchens, they go to custard.”

Pushing people to the edge

Dr Robinson said research from the Department of Jobs and Small Business labour market research and analysis branch this year showed there would be a shortage of 59,500 chefs by 2023.

Dr Robinson, who spent 18 years as a chef and food service manager, said mental health trauma being caused by this culture was “tipping people off the edge”.

“It’s hard enough working in kitchens where employees are standing over a stove for hours and feeling hot, sweaty and time pressured,” he said.

“There are aspects that are never going to change and the occupation is stressful enough so this toxic kitchen culture is only adding an extra and unneeded layer on top of that.”

Dr Robinson said the culture needed to change to avoid a shortage of chefs.

“The data is showing us that a chef leaves the industry about five years after getting their qualification and that’s a huge investment,” he said.

Life in a professional kitchen can be too much for many trainee chefs.
Life in a professional kitchen can be too much for many trainee chefs.

“The other factor is the number of apprenticeship commencements is declining rapidly.

“The startling statistic at the moment is that about 30 per cent of apprentices who commence training don’t complete it.

“But if you compound that with relentless harassment – I frame it as sexual violence – it will continue to worsen.”

Women experience threats from superiors

Dr Robinson said with women making up less than 25 per cent of chefs in Australia, they experienced gender discrimination, violence and harassment.

“Young female apprentices are being threatened with rape if they don’t do their job,” he said.

“Another has said she was complaining about period pain and the chef asked her to show him the evidence.

“What we’re hearing are practices that are completely unacceptable.”

Dr Robinson said these behaviours were more extreme in high-end restaurants and hotels.

“Chefs are ambitious and extremely passionate to work in the best places to help their CV and career to progress but what they’re prone to tolerate a lot more and put up with wage theft as we’ve seen recently in Melbourne,” he said.

Dr Robinson suspected some aspects of the culture and job had since “cleaned up”, but his data showed the toxic kitchen culture was still prominent and had become “more subtle and disguised”.

“What appears as a functional shopfront is not necessarily what you find in the back,” he said.

“Having said that there has been an increase in regulation and chefs are no longer expected to work six days a week where it was a given back in the day.”

Industry says tertiary education expectations, not toxic culture, is the issue

Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive Wes Lambert said the 60,000 shortfall figure was lower than he expected, but he did not believe it was due to a toxic culture.

“Hospitality will see a shortage of over 120,000 staff from front and back of house due mainly to the well-advertised national attitudes towards VET [Vocational Education and Training] and TAFE and funding, especially from the government, for people to go to higher education,” he said.

“This is how us, as an industry, are seeing and hearing from our members as well as all organisations that monitor it.

“The drop of students are just being misused and being directed to universities for other reasons unrelated to what the researcher may have noticed.

“It’s a stretch to go from 80 apprentices divided by the expected 123,000 shortages, which is the largest of any industry, is such a tiny sample size.”

Trainee chefs at TAFE.
Trainee chefs at TAFE.CREDIT:JIM RICE

Mr Lambert said there were fewer enrolments in TAFE, cooking and hospitality courses.

“We are losing more workers in our industry than what is available to take in jobs,” he said.

“The slowdown in immigration due to current immigration law is another reason why we don’t have enough skilled workers.

“To say a toxic kitchen culture is the reason for the decrease is not what the industry is telling us.

“In fact, the (Department of Justice and Equality) had a report that was released that states hospitality is one of the closest to a 50-50 workforce of Australia.”

Mr Lambert said industry had improved in recent years and mental health was “certainly on the radar” of restaurant owners, HR departments and businesses.

He said counselling would be sought if employees experienced difficulty in the stresses and strains of the jobs.

“I’ve never heard of our members experiencing it (harassment or bullying) but when it is well-publicised, it’s a talking point that is addressed with ongoing initiatives by businesses,” he said.

Work pressures and bullying

However, Australian Culinary Federation Queensland president Bruno Gentile said a mixture of toxic kitchen culture, workload and personal challenges were ongoing issues that restaurant owners were battling.

“Pressures of work itself and individuals turning to drugs and alcohol and experiencing bad mental health are relevant issues that associations are trying to address,” he said.

“Only a handful of people have rung me (about harassment and bullying) or asked me for advice on issues, more so on bullying.”

Mr Gentile, who has been in the industry for 40 years, agreed with Dr Robinson’s research regarding some improvements in the industry.

“I think people are now employing more chefs in the kitchen to reduce those crazy hours,” he said.

“Weekends are more acceptable to have time off whereas it was virtually impossible back in the day.

“In relation to the bullying and harassment and pressures in the kitchen, I think a lot has come down to what it was years ago.”

Research to create strategies

Dr Robinson said his analysis of his research was still in its early stages but saw a strong pattern.

“If things were getting so much better, why is there so much evidence of chefs leaving in droves?” he said.

“Our evidence to date suggests there are more chefs than educators and actually are active in socialising toxic kitchen culture rather than diffusing it.

“Rather than accusing apprentices of not being resilient, the industry needs to step up to the plate and make kitchens a better proposition for young people.”

Dr Robinson hoped to develop interventions, including training models and coping strategies to empower apprentices.

He would also investigate the development of a best practice kitchen management online module.


Cash forgets workers involved in VET

Disgraced former Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash today announced a panel to oversee reform in the vocational training sector.

The panel, ironically titled the “Industry VET Stakeholder Committee”, will have no representation for the people participating in the VET system.

It includes the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, major accounting firms KPMG and PwC as well as the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, but no representatives of working people.

Budget cuts to TAFE, privatisation and a refusal by Liberal governments to listen to the needs of working people in the sector has created a serious skills shortage while leaving thousands of young people unemployed.

At the same time huge amounts of public money has been wasted on providers who rip off students and do not deliver the skills training we need.

This panel looks to be more of the same from a Government that will do anything to accommodate its big business donors.

As noted by ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

“Excluding working people from a discussion about skills training is disappointing but not surprising from a government that caters exclusively to the interests of big business.

“The Morrison Government is pursing a policy agenda designed to keep wages low, attack the rights of working people and give even more power to big business.

“We need skills training which puts the needs of working people first and fills genuine skills shortages, not a system that pours money into the pockets of for-profit training providers.

“To fix the big problems in VET the Morrison government needs to listen to all stakeholders and act on their concerns. We call on the Morrison Government to include working people in this process.”

/Public Release. View in full here.

Getting down to business – strengthening Australia’s vocational education and training sector

The Morrison Government has established its Vocational Education and Training (VET) Stakeholder committee to help drive its significant agenda of reform.

The highly experienced committee was handpicked, to ensure we have the talent and knowledge informing the Government’s skills sector initiatives.

The VET Stakeholder committee has hit the ground running and hosted their inaugural meeting in Canberra last week.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said the Committee will ensure that stakeholder views are understood, considered and included during the implementation of the $525 million Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package.

“Our vision to create a strong VET sector is critical to our economy and to helping prepare Australians for the workforce of today and the future,” Minister Cash said.

“The Morrison Government is committed to creating more than 1.25 million jobs over the next five years and I’m confident that more and more of the people filling these positions will be coming to employers through the VET system.

“We are acutely aware of the workforce requirements in the Australian economy. Our reform agenda will deliver better outcomes for Australians who make the choice to pursue a VET pathway.”

The Committee brings together representatives of business councils, consumer advocates, peak body representatives, registered training organisations, and public, private, community and non-for-profit providers.

“Together we will improve the VET system through collaboration of Commonwealth, state and territory governments, industry and training providers, and shift community perceptions around industry focused training,” Minister Cash said.

“A strong VET sector will support millions of Australians to obtain the skills they need to participate and prosper in the modern economy.”

VET Stakeholder Committee membership

Members will meet monthly through to June 2023.

Organisation Representative Position
Adult Learning Australia Ms Jenny Macaffer CEO
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ms Jenny Lambert Director, Employment Education and Training
Australian Industry Group Ms Megan Lilly Head, Workforce Development
Business Council of Australia Ms Megan Kirchner Head, Tertiary Education
Career Development Association of Australia Ms Wanda Hayes National President
Career Industry Council of Australia Mr David Carney Executive Director
Community Colleges Australia Mr Don Perlgut CEO
Council of Small Business Organisations Australia Mr Peter Strong CEO
Enterprise Registered Training Organisation Association Mr Chris Butler Assistant Director
Family Business Australia Ms Anne-Marie McNally National Product Manager
Foundation for Young Australians Mr Alex Snow Head of Research
Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia Mr Troy Williams CEO
Jobs Australia Ms Debra Cerasa CEO
KPMG Ms Sue Bussell Partner, Workplace Relations Advisory
National Apprentice Employment Network Ms Dianne Dayhew National Executive Director
National Australian Apprenticeships Association Mr Ben Bardon CEO
National Employment Services Association Ms Sally Sinclair CEO
PwC Ms Sarah Caplan Partner, National Skills Lead
TAFE Directors Australia Mr Craig Robertson CEO
/Public Release. View in full here.

Student Haunted By $8,000 Fee Help Loans Years After College Collapse

Adam Weber has vowed he will not repay his VET FEE-HELP loan.

The now 27-year-old recruitment consultant was one of 1,600 students across the country caught up in the collapse of the Australia Careers Institute (ACI), which owned the Sage Institute of Fitness among other education facilities.

The ACI went into voluntary administration on February 8, 2017.

Weber was seven months into the 12-month Diploma of Fitness Coaching when he was informed via a Facebook message that the Institute was closing and he would be unable to complete his studies. Weber claims he and other students were told they would not have to repay their loans as the Institute closing was out of their control.

Sage collapsed in February 2017. Photo: Instagram/ sage_fitness

Four weeks ago, Weber was shocked when he was informed by a tax agent that he owed over $8,000 in fee repayments from his time at Sage. He was told he owed this money despite receiving no course credit from his study that he could use at other training centres.

“If I had something from my studies I would have no problem paying for it but I haven’t got anything,” Weber told 10 daily.

“I am not going to pay that. I have bills that can go towards and other things that I can save for … I don’t want to hand over my money for nothing.”

Weber chose to study at Sage because they offered a Diploma of Fitness Coaching — the only diploma of its type in the country. Due to its unique nature, the course cost students $20,000 for the 12-month period

READ MORE: Huge Fines, Prison For University ‘Contract Cheating’ Services

Weber claims he didn’t get any recognition for his studies. Photo: Instagram/ sage_fitness

After Sage collapsed, Weber told 10 daily he and other students tried to apply to other fitness colleges but were repeatedly told their months of study were not recognised by other institutions.

“I went to start another course and they told me that nothing could be recognised and that I would have to start again,” Weber said.

“It wasn’t recognised, we learned a lot but they weren’t recognised or accredited.”

A former teacher at the Sage Institute of Fitness told 10 daily students were left without any recognition for their work, and for the money they spent.

“They were lured into the smoke and mirrors … they basically said you have to start again. You get no credit for what you have done,” the teacher, who asked not to be identified, said.

“This was a very expensive face-to-face course and it was a diploma course so this was up a level … the teachers and admin staff were great but they were not being funded.”

The diploma course was ‘very expensive’. Photo: Getty Images.

Former students of the Sage Institute of Fitness have a redress available to them which may void their fees, the Australian Ombudsman told 10 daily in an email. The scheme came into effect on January 1 2019.

“… Complainants are offered a deferment of the compulsory student loan repayments while the Office assesses their complaint, which means they are not required to make payments to the Australian Tax Office in relation to the VET FEE-HELP loan,” the email said.

Students like Weber are able to apply to have their fees waived if they have incurred a VET FEE-HELP debt due to “inappropriate conduct by an education provider“.

People who feel they fit this category can apply to have their debt removed online.

Adam Weber has been in contact with the Ombudsman and was told his dispute could take up to 12 months to resolve. Until then, he’s put his repayments on hold.

READ MORE: The University Students Taking ‘Study Drugs’ To Cram For Exams

Sage was endorsed by Steve “Commando” Willis. Photo: Instagram/ sage_fitness

Weber also said he felt scammed by Sage Institute of Fitness. He told 10 daily information he was given when he applied differed from his course experience.

“As soon as I called them everything was a rush to get in. I was told that I had to come in and sign-up today because there was only three spaces left, but three weeks into the class people were still coming in,” Weber said.

Since their collapse, Sage has copped criticism for the way they managed money.

A hearing in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in October 2017 revealed Sage spent a massive $6 million in a marketing splurge that featured Steve “Commando” Willis. The hearing also heard that the collage earned $32 million over two years through the now-scrapped VET FEE-HELP loan scheme but just 45 percent of students graduated from courses.

At the time, administrator Ferrier Hodgson took over ACI after federal government payments ceased in November/December 2016 in light of the low course completion rate.

Ferrier Hodgson has since been acquired by auditing firm KPMG. When contacted by 10 daily for comment, the firm said it was unable to provide direct comment on the situation, as the Sage case was finalised before Ferrier Hodgson became part of KPMG, and case files were not transferred.

KPMG had acquired Ferrier Hodgson since the ACI collapsed. Photo: Getty Images.

KPMG was able to provide the Sage Creditors Report to 10 daily, where the Institutes’ reliance on government money was outlined.

“The Group was reliant upon receipt of VET FEE-HELP advances from the Commonwealth by ACI to ensure it remained solvent,” the document reads.

Two years on, Weber is still financially and personally impacted by the collapse of Sage. His dream to run his own boot camp business is now just a distant memory and he said he’s been completely turned off ever pursuing a career in the fitness industry.

“It ruined my drive for the fitness industry because I pretty much got scammed and I couldn’t go through it again,” Weber said.

Contact Siobhan at


TAFE Directors Australia Convention 2019, Brisbane

I would like to acknowledge and thank Mr Craig Robertson, CEO of TAFE Directors Australia for the invitation to speak to you today about the future of TAFE in Australia.

I have first-hand experience of the VET system having completed an apprenticeship as a sparky, back in the day.

Now, I know a lot has changed in VET since then, so I am keen to learn more from everyone in this room about the pressures and concerns you have, and how we might be able to address these from the Commonwealth perspective.

One of the most important events in the recent history of VET happened just last month, although it occurred without much fanfare.

That was the discussion at the most recent Council of Australian Governments’ meeting held in Cairns.

There, all jurisdictions signed on to a clear and shared vision for the future of vocational education and training.

The vision recognises VET is a responsive, dynamic and trusted sector that delivers an excellent standard of education and training.

But the vision also recognises the changing nature of work and workplaces.

I am sure we all appreciate that VET cannot stand still.

The world of work is changing with new technological, social and economic trends – and VET needs to respond positively.

So it is exciting that at CoAG, the Prime Minister and state and territory leaders signed on to working towards a VET system that:

  • is responsive to the needs of private industry and the public sector, ensuring employers have ready access to a highly skilled and adaptable workforce,
  • is flexible in providing skills at all points in an individual’s career, whether it be foundational training, initial training, upskilling or re‑skilling, and
  • recognises the importance of a viable and robust system of both public and private providers.

I cannot overstate how important it is that we now have this top-level agreement across jurisdictions on the future direction of VET in Australia.

There are many players with a stake in the operation of the VET system, and the agreement at CoAG provides leadership in recognising that our vocational education system needs to remain world‑class, modern and flexible.

So I am excited to be here today to tell you about our plans to help you build a skilled, flexible and innovative workforce through a new VET system, including a new vision for apprenticeships.

Minister Michaelia Cash and I are both passionate about lifting the profile of vocational education.

We both see it as a valuable career choice for many Australians that should not be seen as less important than a university degree.

I feel we are seeing positive progress in this area and there’s also growing recognition of the contribution VET can make in better meeting the needs of employers, workers and customers.

But we can, and should, do more to ensure VET is recognised as an attractive choice for school leavers, for people thinking of changing careers, and also people who are looking to up-skill in their current job.

The $525 million package announced in this year’s Budget is a new beginning for vocational education and training in this country.

It was clear that the time for tinkering around the edges had passed and we needed a fresh approach incorporating a clear and positive path forward for VET.

Our Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package responds to the review of the VET system undertaken by Steven Joyce for us last year.

I’m glad to see Mr Joyce will be speaking at this convention tomorrow.

And I’m very pleased that Minister Cash has also appointed Mr Joyce as Chair of an independent Expert Panel, along with VET expert, Professor Peter Noonan from Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute, and accomplished businesswoman Dr Vanessa Guthrie, who will bring vital industry experience and perspective.

The Expert Panel will advise the Government on the implementation of the skills package, and on our future reform trajectory.

And of course we will continue to work closely with TDA and other sector stakeholders through a dedicated stakeholder committee which will provide essential feedback and advice as we implement the Skills Package.

It’s important that our reforms are practical, helpful and grounded by a range of perspectives and ideas, so I am pleased we will be getting this independent advice as we go forward.

Our aim is for VET to be responsive to changing industry requirements and future-focussed.

We want VET to be seen as a trusted and equal partner with higher education in the success and outcomes from Australia’s tertiary system.

The Joyce Review of VET found that fundamental change is required to lift confidence in the VET system as a whole.

Australia’s VET sector must connect better with industry, reflect community requirements, and be supported with consistent funding arrangements.

The Government’s new skills agenda recognises that VET is a shared responsibility, and is encouraging all VET sector stakeholders to work together more closely and responsively.

The VET system also needs to be helping current workers to update their skills, so that employers can develop their existing workforce rather than letting people go and hiring others with the skills they need.

In this way, businesses will be supported by a skilled and flexible workforce that can reap the benefits for the business from technological advances, while supporting business growth.

We are establishing a new National Skills Commission – a $48.3 million investment – to provide leadership on workforce needs and VET funding by researching future needs and efficient prices for training.

A national co-design process will determine the functions, remit and governance of the new Commission.

Working in coordination with the Commission will be Skills Organisations, which will align training with industry skill needs and employment pathways.

It’s vital that we strengthen the pathway to employment, particularly for young Australians.

That’s why our Skills Package includes substantial funding to establish ten Training Hubs across Australia to help tackle youth unemployment in key regions by building better connections between local businesses, industries and schools.

Training Hubs will be established in these regions to help local young people to engage in vocational education and training, and to develop the skills suited to occupations in local industries.

We have also created a National Careers Institute to bring together information about career pathways, and provide a framework for quality career guidance on a national scale.

Work is already progressing to map careers advice and services in Australia and review international best practice to identify gaps in the delivery of advice and guidance to Australians navigating their learning, training and work pathways.

A Careers Ambassador will facilitate stakeholder engagement and drive the Institute’s agenda.

The Ambassador will work to lift the profile of VET and improve the quality of and access to careers advice nationally.

Our VET Information Strategy is addressing misconceptions around VET and promoting the opportunities that come from completing a VET qualification.

We are also establishing a competitive grants program to foster innovative partnerships between industry, schools, and providers.

The grants will be worth up to $350,000 each and will be awarded to education and training projects that best align with industry needs.

As a qualified electrician, I naturally have a strong interest in the success of the Australian apprenticeship system.

Among other measures in the Skills Package, we are investing $156 million in an Additional Identified Skills Shortage payment to eligible apprentices and their employers in ten occupations experiencing national skills shortages.

This new payment commenced on 1 July this year and will help create and up to 80,000 new apprenticeships over the next five years.

Occupations eligible for the payment include carpenters and joiners, plumbers, bricklayers, plasterers and tilers, with up to $4000 in financial support in addition to existing programs.

We’ve also doubled the size of the successful Australian Apprentice Wage Subsidy Trial from 1 July this year, to support up to 3200 Australians living in our regions with the opportunity of an apprenticeship.

And from 1 July next year, it will be simpler for employers to claim incentives under the new, streamlined Incentives for Australian Apprenticeships scheme.

Our overall aim is to grow the apprenticeships system and build the skilled workforce Australia needs to remain competitive internationally.

Before I finish speaking, I want to tease out what all this means for you.

I’m well aware that once this convention finishes you will be back in your offices facing day-to-day pressures and urgent work priorities – and the Skills Package may not be top of mind.

So here are three suggestions for how you can be ready for the changes that are coming:

First, I would encourage you to look at this as a once-in-a generation opportunity to strengthen VET.

We cannot afford to tread water.

It’s up to all of us to make sure the evolution of VET is positive by being open to new ways of working and being ready to collaborate across traditional boundaries.

That might mean making stronger links with universities and larger employers in your region or bringing together small business operators, community groups, and the different levels of government to devise local solutions to any skills gaps in your region.

Next, keep in touch with the various initiatives in the Skills Package as they roll out.

By engaging early in the process, you will be ahead of the curve in terms of getting the most out of the changes, as well as influencing how they are implemented.

So, I encourage you to do things like meet with the National Careers Ambassador, and perhaps provide input to the National Skills Commission and the Skills Organisations on how they should fulfil their charter.

These organisations will benefit greatly from practical input from TAFE representatives, and this in turn will make them more useful to you.

Lastly, I encourage you to think more about how you can fill skills gaps in your locality.

Formal qualifications are rightly the backbone of the VET and university systems, but we are in a dynamic environment now where workers are needing to update their digital or other technical skills, without the time and expense of undertaking a longer course.

The Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell recently said: “Small businesses need VET providers to be more flexible in their approaches to training workers, including tailoring courses to match the skills needed by employers.”

Related to this, there is work underway in my department and elsewhere on analysing skills using employment and education datasets to suggest flexible training pathways for workers or job seekers to enhance their career prospects.

This is an exciting time for vocational education and training in Australia and I am looking forward to working with you all to achieve positive change.

Overall, everyone here shares the same aim of seeing TAFE continue to support students and businesses so the national economy prospers.

I believe the Australian Government has set a strong direction, and that together, we can deliver a vocational education sector that provides workforce skills and relevant, up-to-date qualifications that are well‑matched to the evolving opportunities and challenges of Australia’s modern economy.

Our success will depend on tapping into your knowledge and expertise, so please take the time to collaborate and share with us your insights, as you are already doing by attending this TAFE Directors Convention.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the program and I look forward to our joint success in building a better TAFE sector for Australia.

/Public Release. View in full here.

National Skills Needs List to be updated

Review to ensure skills shortages are identified.

The government will replace the National Skills Needs List (NSNL) after a review of the program.

Since 2007, the NSNL has determined which jobs are eligible for payments under the Incentives for Australian Apprenticeships (IAA) program.

Senator Michaelia Cash announced the modernisation project on Thursday.

“The review will ensure skills shortages are identified using a forward-looking, up-to-date methodology and that apprenticeship incentives are targeted at addressing critical skills shortages in the Australian economy,” Minister Cash said.

“Developing a robust and enduring approach to determining how apprenticeship incentives address skills shortages is part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to maintaining a strong vocational education and training sector that supports employers’ needs and builds a skilled workforce.”

Currently, to be added to the NSNL, an occupation must meet a set of criteria including:

  • That it is classified under Major Group 3 Technicians and Trades Workers of the Australia and New Zealand standard classification of occupations
  • At least 1,500 people are employed in the occupation
  • And that it is assessed as being in skills shortage for three of the past five years

The current list, that includes trades like ‘landscape gardener’, ‘lift mechanic’, and ‘picture framer’ has few IT jobs, despite persistent sector shortages.

And because the NSNL has not been updated since 2011, only 22 of the 65 jobs on it meet the selection criteria.

The review Issues Paper outlines how the current NSNL methodology is insufficient for its scope.

“While the employment and research thresholds provide a measure of rigor in determining the existence of skills shortages, the outcome may be that critical skills shortages in small or niche occupations are allowed to persist,” it said.

Earlier this month, the government expanded its Global Talent visa scheme, allowing businesses to look overseas for highly skilled workers in niche occupations.

The review has begun its consultation phase and Cash encouraged community response to the published issue paper.

“I urge stakeholders with an interest in building a high-quality Australian workforce with the skills that employers need to contribute to this important review,” she said.

Submissions to the review close on September 27.


‘This is critical’: Plan to stop the national skills shortage

Now in its ninth year, the week is designed to promote vocational education and the need for apprentices and trainees.

Alan Jones has long been an advocate for TAFE and apprenticeships, saying Australians have become “jobs snobs”.

Skills Week Director Brian Wexham tells Alan we’ve got to do something to promote vocational education.

“Guys or girls that go to university, many of them don’t go there with any aspiration in terms of what they’re going to do for a job when they get out of it.”

This week is National Skills Week, highlighting a “critical” issue with the Australian workforce.

Alan says the problem is clear but questions what the solution is.

“This is critical… Vocational education and training is seen as the poor cousin of a university education. How do we arrest that?” asks Alan.

Mr Wexham believes he has the answer, suggesting a plan to fix the issue.

Click PLAY below to hear the full interview

Expert panel to advise on future of Vocational Education and Training

As part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to revitalise vocational education and training (VET), an independent expert advisory panel has been established.

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said the Expert Panel will provide independent strategic advice to the Government on key reforms flowing from the Joyce Review ‘Expert Review of Australia’s VET System’, released in April 2019.

“The Morrison Government is acting on the Joyce Review, committing more than $525 million to the Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package, to support more Australians to gain the skills employers are looking for,” Minister Cash said.

“It will ensure our workforce has the right skills to help businesses grow and contribute to the economy, both now and into the future.

“I am pleased to announce that the Honourable Steven Joyce will chair the Expert Panel, and he is well placed to help us implement our reform agenda.”

He will be joined by Peter Noonan, Professor of Tertiary Education Policy at Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute, and Dr Vanessa Guthrie, who will bring a crucial industry perspective, with her senior leadership and executive experience.

Together, the three Panel members bring a wealth of expertise and experience to the task of advising the Government on the implementation of the skills package, and on our future reform trajectory.

“The Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package will help provide businesses with a pipeline of qualified workers they need to grow and prosper.” The Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships, The Hon Steve Irons MP, said through these reforms we will deliver a vocational education sector that provides workforce skills and relevant, up-to-date qualifications that are well-matched to the evolving opportunities and challenges of Australia’s modern economy.

“We need a modern and flexible VET sector, one that places industry at the centre and raises the profile of VET as a career pathway of choice.”

“We are committed to a VET system that delivers positive opportunities and outcomes for all Australians, regardless of geographic, social or personal circumstances,” Assistant Minister Irons said.

/Public Release. View in full here.

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