The fall in foreign students combined with the rapid increase in highly skilled migrants flocking to Australia's mines has seen a shortage develop in the hospitality industryThe fall in foreign students combined with the rapid increase in highly skilled migrants flocking to Australia’s mines has seen a shortage develop in the hospitality industry.

In response to this shortfall the federal government intends to change Australian visa restrictions to encourage experienced workers for the faltering industry.

Due to changing patterns in Australian immigration routes, the government estimates that the hospitality industry is short 35,000 workers; that number is expected to rise as many as 56,000 by 2015.

The planned changes to the 457 visa requirements are intended to encourage workers such as waiters, bartenders and hotel managers to the country to fill these much needed vacancies.

The Australian tourism and resources manager, Martin Ferguson, said the changes would allow tourism operators in rural areas who are “crying out” for workers.

The announcement has already met with criticism with claims from workers’ unions saying that Australian citizens would lose job opportunities due to the visa change.

However, these claims have already been refuted, Australian and Tourism Forum chief executive John Lee said “this is not about denying Australians the right to do the job. The jobs are there, they just don’t want to do them.”

As Australia continues to maintain a healthy low unemployment rate across the board, the rate for youth unemployment, which would be the demographic typically expected to fill these unskilled positions, has been steadily rising over the past four years.

Mr Ferguson was quick to state that the changes would not be used by employers simply looking to hire foreign employees at lower rates.

“Employers brining workers in from overseas need to prove they are facing labour shortages” said Mr Ferguson, adding that over the next six years the government are investing AU$3 billion (£2 billion) to help disadvantaged Australians gain skills and to implement apprenticeship schemes.

Thanks as always to the good folks over at the Visa Bureau who helped contribute towards this article.