Hospitality and tourism industry trainees will be paid up to $10,000 above award wages in a statewide plan to boost staff amid widespread shortages due to the crippling COVID-19 pandemic.
Employment minister Jaala Pulford announced the $6 million initiative this week, which will provide 240 regional Victorian jobseekers with hospitality and tourism traineeships.
Trainees will receive 12 months of secure employment, undertaking placements across regional businesses, while completing a Certificate III in Hospitality or Tourism.
To attract staff, trainees will be paid a wage supplement up to $10,000 above the relevant industry award over the 12-month period.
They will also receive one-on-one mentoring in the lead-up to the traineeship and while on the job.
Roles will be prioritised for women over 45, people under 25, Aboriginal Victorians and the long-term unemployed.
Warrnambool-based employment and training agency Westvic Staffing Solutions, which has offices across the state, put the initial proposal to government and will roll the program out in regional Victoria until mid-2023.
Westvic chief executive officer Dean Luciani said it was an innovative approach to "try and boost confidence for hospitality and tourism and win back some of the labour market that might have shifted to other industries in a really competitive environment".
Mr Luciani said the region had very low unemployment levels and a "very, very competitive labour market".
"The uncertainty and ups and downs we've seen in hospitality over the last couple of years have really knocked confidence around in the sector, but it's also knocked around the confidence for people to work in hospitality and tourism," he said.
Mr Luciani said it was difficult for all industries to find staff at the moment. "There's some additional challenges for tourism and hospitality operators who have had to cop uncertainty for their industries over the past few years," he said.
"If you've been burnt in an industry and there's so many options in other industries, it kind of makes sense to try something else.
"We know how important hospitality is to regional communities' economies so I think this is a really important initiative to try and start that journey towards re-establishing some confidence for people to enter that. I think it's a great initiative. It's fantastic."
Steve Phillpot's Warrnambool Hotel is one of many south-west businesses that has experienced staff shortages. The widespread shortages have forced some owners to cut the number of days they operate or reduce opening times.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.