A new recruitment agency is working to fill hospitality skills shortage gaps and provide pathways to employment for people in regional Victoria.
Belinda Eden launched Ballarat-based hospitality recruitment agency Troop Employment in February, providing a casual pool of staff available for busier times or special events.
She has partnered with the Ballarat Neighbourhood Centre to provide pathways to employment for graduates from the centre's hospitality courses.
I had no skills. I was wondering what I would do.Noreen Van Den Hoek, Neighbourhood Centre graduate
The Neighbourhood Centre also provides an avenue for staff who apply to work for Troop Employment without qualifications to secure further training.
Noreen Van Den Hoek is now working for Troop Employment after graduating from a number of hospitality courses and volunteering during community lunches at the Neighbourhood Centre.
She said her husband unexpectedly died two years ago and she came to the Neighbourhood Centre looking to learn new skills and gain employment.
"I had no skills. I was wondering what I would do," Ms Van Den Hoek said.
"I came across the Neighbourhood Centre one day and looked at all the courses. Now I have done about eight courses in cooking, commercial cookery, a barista course, baking and others.
"That has given me confidence and work. Through the Neighbourhood Centre I came across Troop Employment and now have a job."
As the only hospitality focused recruitment agency in Ballarat, Troop Employment is re-shaping the hospitality employment experience by providing a casual pool of experienced staff available for busier times.
Ms Eden said the hospitality employment agency scenario was well used in Melbourne but had not been used in regional Victoria in the past.
"I have had inquiries from Warrnambool and Ararat up to Swan Hill. I've started to have the conversations about staffing for spring racing carnivals," she said.
"It is about keeping local people in work but also being able to fill those positions that are available when businesses need them."
The 2016 Census showed the accommodation and food services sector accounts for 6.9 per cent of Australia's total working population.
Employment in the hospitality industry is expected to grow significantly nationwide in the next five years, by 12.1 per cent, according to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee.
Ms Eden said she expected the demand for skilled hospitality staff to increase with Ballarat and regional Victoria's expanding food scene and events like Plate Up Ballarat.