20/02/2008 - 22:00

Graduates in demand

20/02/2008 - 22:00

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Workforce shortages in the tourism industry have created strong demand for tourism graduates, with some providers registering close to 100 per cent employment rate for their students.

Workforce shortages in the tourism industry have created strong demand for tourism graduates, with some providers registering close to 100 per cent employment rate for their students.

Challenger TAFE says companies such as Qantas Wholesalers and tour wholesaler New Horizons have recruited students straight from the college, with Qantas Wholesalers recruiting full-time staff for the first time in eight years.

Challenger TAFE tourism lecturer Kathryn Clark said the college had a strong relationship with a number of tourism operators, and a focus on hands-on, practical training.

She said students regularly visited tourism organisations and had access to networking opportunities, which allowed potential employers to see which students might suit their company’s recruitment needs

Some students had even been offered work before they’ve completed their training, Ms Clark said.

The skills shortage has gripped the tourism and hospitality industries, with restaurants, cafes, tour operators and even airlines experiencing difficulties attracting qualified staff.

Earlier this year, the government announced a number of initiatives to help combat workforce shortages in the WA tourism industry, committing $590,000 worth of funding to the task.

Initiatives proposed under the funding package, announced in January, aim to boost attraction programs, with a focus on holiday workers and students, and include an expansion of the workforce partnership grant program and indigenous cadetship programs.

Tourism WA and the Small Business Development Corporation are working on an initiative to create linkages between hospitality students graduating from universities in the US and local employers.

The program will develop a new reciprocal work and holiday visa allowing young Americans to travel and work in Australia for up to a year.

Other programs introduced to help attract potential workers into the tourism and hospitality industries include the Hospitality Passport Program, which is aimed at training students in a range of skills while working with a host company, and the ‘Go West Now’ campaign, aimed at attracting interstate workers.

The state’s tourism industry contributed about $5 billion a year to the WA economy, and employs just under 80,000 people.

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