The plea to include the café and restaurant managers in the Immigration’s skill shortage list has been rejected by the Government stating those roles can be filled locally if the pay rates are lifted for the occupation.

The joint application by The Restaurant Association and Hospitality New Zealand was submitted along with evidence from the hospitality industry that is facing a severe shortage of café and restaurant managers. The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) took the decision that has now shut down the hopes of hiring overseas workers to fill the gap.

The Immediate Skills Shortage List is a regional measure that identifies whether there is a skill shortage within a certain region. If a certain job is on the list, and an overseas worker meets the requirements for that occupation, they may be granted an Essential Skills Work Visa.

The businesses in the hospitality industry, cafes, hotels restaurants etc. say the role for the manager requires at least five years of experience and there is a dire shortage of such people locally and very difficult to recruit one locally.

A Hospitality New Zealand member survey found 92 per cent of its employers had difficulty recruiting for this role.

Sky City was also cited in MBIE’s decision letter. It said Auckland hospitality and tourism employers were facing “unprecedented skill shortages”, NZ Herald reported.

But the MBIE said that the government figures show a different narrative to share and that “occupation replacement levels could be sufficient if industry terms and conditions of employment were attractive.”

The Restaurant Association says that that the average salary for café managers was $53,000 or $20.75 per hour whereas as per MBIE the average mean salary for such positions is $40,027.

The Government is forecasting that until 2026, the growth and retirements is about 682 position per annum. It says that as of July 2018 the Ministry of Social Development had 160 jobseekers who claimed they had over 12 months of work experience in this occupation.

The Restaurant Association says the businesses in Queenstown, Hawke’s Bay, Auckland and Bay of Plenty were the suffering the most and are struggling by the restaurant and café managers’ shortage.

Image: Restaurant Association NZ

“I don’t think it’s fair on the industry for the Government to use immigration policy to try and control what an industry pays,” the Chief Executive of the Restaurant Association, Marisa Bidois told NZ Herald.

“We understand what the Government is trying to achieve. We want to be able to hire more Kiwis as well – that very clearly comes through from the industry, the problem is there is a disconnect between that ideal and what’s actually happening,” she added.

Ms Bidois further adds that the data used to come to this conclusion of not to include the positions in Immigration’s skilled shortage list is from 2013 and 2013.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the Government was working to build a system to meet regional labour needs “without reaching for Immigration as the first resort, Restaurant Association website read.

“Cafe and restaurant manager roles were declined due to a lack of evidence that effective training and retention strategies have been implemented by the industry to employ New Zealanders. This doesn’t mean they can’t employ migrants, it just means they have to satisfy a labour market test before recruiting migrants,” Lees-Galloway said.

The Immediate Skill Shortage List will be replaced by a Regional Skill Shortage List next week.