A lotto winner’s dream holiday? Guess again…
This is a typical day in the life of a Top End tour guide. It’s the sort of job that draws thousands of entrants in one of those giant marketing campaigns, isn’t it? People must be clamouring over each other to work there, right?
Funnily enough, the local tourism industry can’t get enough employees!
With more than 50,000 cruise ship passengers arriving annually in the Northern Territory, people are being flown in to meet the demand for day trips.
This dilemma is indicative of a nation-wide skills-shortage in the country’s tourism sector. This year the shortfall is expected to hit 56,000 workers as record numbers of visitors stream in from around the world, particularly Asia.
A major industry report says tourism will be Australia’s second fastest growing industry over the next 20 years. So the shortage will get worse before it gets better. In fact, according to the same report, four in every five businesses in the sector are now concerned about where they’ll find enough skilled labour to meet demand, both now and in the long term.
But they’re not just looking for glib talkers and steady bushwalkers.
The digital revolution has had an unprecedented impact on how tourism is marketed, promoted and delivered. As a result, technology-savvy individuals are urgently required as businesses adapt to communicating with digitally-aware tourists, particularly through social media.
The ageing population is also adding to demand as bands of grey nomads traverse the country, driving growth in new products and services, such ecotourism and wellness tourism.
The industry is also crying out for people skilled in food preparation and service to ensure Australia lives up to its reputation as a world-class destination for ‘foodies’.
Customer service, public speaking and communication, Indigenous interpretation and storytelling, recruitment and induction and cultural awareness are also skills earmarked as high-priorities within the sector.
But tourism’s an industry for fit, baby-faced school-leavers with no kids, no mortgage and no ties to speak of, I hear you say.
Nope. According to the industry’s own workforce development strategy, parents (along with people with disabilities) have been identified as priority targets for employment. Someone has finally realised how valuable their life experience and existing skills are to the sector and the doors are wide open.
So what does all this add up to?
In a new economy where job insecurity is a real issue for millions of Australians, the tourism industry offers an amazing opportunity for TAFEnow students to re-skill or top up existing skills and join a sector desperate for quality workers… and set to remain so for at least a decade.