Chefs in high demand

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 12th June 2008

Australian chefs are in demand and, with suitable chefs becoming harder to find, their wages could keep on rising.

Over 200 advertisements for chefs have been added to job website Seek in the past three days alone and a further 450 for other positions in restaurants and cafes, with the industry one of the hardest hit by the skills shortage.

Currently, the highest number of jobs available (according to Seek) is in Melbourne, as a seemingly endless stream of new cafes and restaurants open; putting heightened pressure on the sector. Most other regions are struggling too, with Perth being one of the first cities to face a crisis as the boom in the city led to a growth in restaurant numbers but a shortage of chefs. Poaching has been increasingly reported in a number of states as restaurants resort to taking staff from rivals in order to deal with the issue.

Of great concern is the number of chefs leaving the industry within five years of joining, placing further pressure on the industry. The sugar-coated view of what it is like to be a chef exhibited on popular TV shows is likely to draw young people into the industry in coming years but, as they quickly realize that it is tougher than celebrity chefs make it appear, will they stay?

According to My Career the average chef currently receives $52,257 annually and this is likely to rise, though, with restaurant margins stretched thin, the extent of further rises is likely to be tempered. Small restaurants, in particular, are going to find it more difficult, with many forced to pay well above award wages and/or provide incentives to lure and retain staff.