South West TAFE tourism teacher Katrina Barnes has been approached by several local tourism businesses looking for staff, but she doesn’t have enough recent graduates to fill the positions.
“At the moment graduates are spoilt for choice,” she said. “They’re getting offered two or three jobs and have to choose which one to take.”
Student numbers in the TAFE course dropped during the pandemic but Ms Barnes said job opportunities were now plentiful.
“They have so many more opportunities than previous years,” she said. “A lot of people have left tourism and now the industry is waking up and the jobs are coming back.”
Some businesses have also lost staff who refused to be vaccinated and others have been unable to call on backpackers who filled positions in previous years.
This month is the last chance for people to study tourism at South West TAFE under the Free TAFE program and Ms Barnes says the positive prospects are likely to continue.
“There’s a long way to go but there is great positivity around travel,” she said.
“As soon as Queensland opens up, they are going to need staff and locally there is big demand, particularly in accommodation where staff are needed in reception and reservations, which they learn in the TAFE course.
“Visitor information centres are starting to need summer workforce and a travel agency has just reached out as well.”
Ms Barnes said South West TAFE had anticipated a decline in tourism students this year but she always expected the industry to bounce back. “We kept saying it was the perfect time to study because the industry would be waking up when they finished studying, and that is exactly what has happened.”
Students enrolling in a tourism subject before November 30 can access the Victorian Government Free TAFE program. People aged under 24 can also access the course for free from next February.
Ms Barnes said students are mostly recruited by accommodation providers, visitor information centres, travel agencies, and tour guide companies.
“We can expect events to start to open up and eventually cruise ships will come back to Portland,” she said. “When you’re trained, there are going to be jobs.”
People can contact 1300 648 911 for more information about tourism courses.