Hospitality venues shipping in workers amid local staff shortage

Hospitality venues across the country have embarked on multimillion-dollar overseas hiring campaigns in an effort to attract talent to Australia as a dearth of international workers prompt staff shortages everywhere from high-end restaurants in Sydney to the MCG.

The parent company behind a number of prominent restaurants such as Rockpool, Spice Temple, Munich Brauhaus and The Bavarian has employed 125 recruits from the Middle East, Europe and the United States at a cost of $10,000 to $20,000 per employee in an effort to bolster languishing worker numbers locally.

Upmarket restaurants such as Rockpool are spending millions to fly in talent from overseas.

Upmarket restaurants such as Rockpool are spending millions to fly in talent from overseas.Credit:Janie Barrett

But it’s not just restaurants affected by the current international worker shortages. Delaware North, which provides catering at major sporting grounds such as the MCG and Rod Laver Arena, has been struggling to get enough staff ahead of the looming football season which kicks off with Wednesday night’s season opener between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.

Gary Brown, Delaware North’s Managing Director said the company would usually have around 3,000 workers on hand for a full-capacity event at the MCG, however, the business was expecting to be a few hundred people short.

“This is not a Melbourne-wide or Victoria-wide issue – it’s a nationwide and industry-wide issue that is affecting the entire hospitality industry on a never-before-seen scale,” he said.

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“Hundreds of thousands of temporary visa holders left Australia over the past few years, many of them from the hospitality industry. Unfortunately, we are not yet seeing an influx of them returning, which is one of the main factors driving the current staffing shortage.”

Staff shortages across the retail and hospitality space have been a persistent issue through the pandemic, with increasing case numbers from the Delta and Omicron strains of the virus putting significant strain on the labor market through the end of last year.

International staff being hired to work at Rockpool and its stable of restaurants are set to arrive at the end of the month and will be provided with visas, airfares and temporary accommodation. They will be split equally between the company’s upmarket restaurants and more casual dining options, with chief executive Thomas Pash saying the company was setting its sights overseas as the supply of local talent had dried up during the pandemic.

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