Strategic workforce planning to improve skill shortages in Australia’s snow regions

Alpine tourism represents 2% of the Australian tourism industry, but can quickly improve with training and upskilling as there is a skill shortage for employment in all categories, from trades to professional.

There is a particular shortage in trained hospitality staff, including wait staff, bar staff and housekeeping.  Attracting appropriate permanent staff in all areas is more difficult because the local towns are small and quiet outside winter – which is just a 17-week income-earning period.  Fluctuating work hours, the cost of living and transport have a significant impact on attracting and retaining staff whose performance will meet or exceed guest expectations.

Opportunities in key snow country regions

Economic Contribution

Total gross direct visitor expenditure generated by the New South Wales resorts was $537 million and $369 million for the Victorian resorts, totalling $906 million.  This covers all items of visitor expenditures, from food and drink to lift passes, entry fees and travel from place of residence to the resort.

The winter resorts of Falls Creek and Mount Hotham generated an additional $106 million in the gross regional product of the Alpine Shire and 1,375 annual equivalent employment, or 21% of the Shire’s total employment opportunities.

The resort of Mt Baw Baw is located in Victoria’s Baw Baw Shire and the resort contributes $7.5 million to the Local Government Area’s (LGA) headline gross regional product.  Total annual equivalent employment opportunities generated by the Alpine resort were 178, which is 0.8 per cent of the LGA total.

Employment & Workforce Development

The influence of the alpine industry in terms of employment in the retail, construction, and accommodation and food services sectors is significant.

The types of careers available incudes ski lift operators, ski equipment hire operators, resort operators, transport operators and retailers in supermarkets down to small outlets.

Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort, for example, encourages the training and development of their staff through work related training and external study.

Specific training programs undertaken during the reporting year has included:

  • Working at Heights
  • De-icing Procedures
  • Vertical Tower Rescue Risk Management
  • Licensee Responsibilities
  • RTP (Resort Transactions Database)
  • RMS (Accommodation Services Database)
  • OH&S
  • Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA)
  • Safe Food Handling
  • Authorised Officer Training

As part of their Strategic Management Plan, the resort is improving workplace quality and accessibility by:

  • Developing an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement which addresses staff and management’s priorities
  • Undertaking a comparative assessment of staff accommodation facilities, and update staff accommodation to meet agreed core standards
  • Developing a staff transport service, and assess the feasibility of a daily staff shuttle service from satellite towns
  • Improving staff recruitment and retention by encouraging local residents to work in the Resort on a day-visit basis

The Victorian Government’s fifteen-year vision for Victoria’s alpine national parks identifies opportunities in tourism and recreation, and addresses key land management elements such as fire, pest animals and weeds management.

Victoria’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith sees this a clear commitment to working in partnership with local groups and individuals.

“Through this management plan, the Napthine Government is once again delivering on its commitment to managing Victoria’s parks to the benefit of the community and to boosting regional tourism.”

“This long-term plan identifies opportunities to grow and improve recreation and tourism, ensuring that regional tourism remains a significant contributor to the Victorian economy and an employment driver both now and into the future.

With the implementation of workforce development strategies, the alpine industry could overcome workforce challenges and improve skill shortages.

If you would like to know more about designing workforce development strategies in your business or region, please contact Wendy Perry via wendy@workforceblueprint.com.au.

July 2015

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