FOREIGN workers should not be the solution to Tasmania’s chef shortage, Franklin Labor MHA Lara Giddings says.
The Tasmanian Hospitality Association says there are more than 140 vacant jobs for chefs and cooks across the state, with restaurants increasingly turning to importing workers on 457 visas.
The state government has pledged to work with the industry to attract the best possible people to the state, but Ms Giddings said the solution should lie closer to home.
‘‘I hope that we could actually grow our own, rather than bring others in to take jobs that really should be going to Tasmanians,’’ she said.
‘‘I can understand for industry that if they can’t get Tasmanians to fill those jobs then they have to find employees from somewhere.
‘‘I think what the government’s role is, is not to keep supporting foreign workers coming in and taking those Tasmanian jobs, but actually working with people on the ground in Tasmania.’’
Ms Giddings said she believed shows like MasterChef could spark an interest in young people to want to take up a career in cooking.
State Growth Minister Matthew Groom said the government was working with the industry to plan for the long-term, and wanted to bring more young Tasmanians into the sector.
‘‘Tasmania has got a great opportunity when it comes to the hospitality sector, that’s not just off the back of the tourism sector,’’ he said.
‘‘We want to work with the hospitality sector to make sure that young Tasmanians recognise that they can have a positive and exciting future, a positive and exciting career in hospitality.’’
There are about 270 TasTAFE students studying various cookery courses.
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