Award-winning Chinese restaurant fears closure
AWARD-WINNING Qi'lin Chinese restaurant is in danger of closing as owners struggle to find skilled workers.
Restaurant co-owners Annette Cheung and Daryll Scott, who recently learnt their restaurant would feature in the Lonely Planet Guide to Australia 2014, have advertised unsuccessfully for staff in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and, in a last desperate attempt, Hong Kong.
As a consequence of immigration policy changes in July, 2012, sponsored workers in regional areas must achieve an International English Language Testing System score of 6 - a level described by Mr Scott as university English.
"In our experience, our overseas workers have sufficient understanding of English to understand such regulations and entitlements but insufficient English to achieve the required IELTS score," he said.
Is there a shortage of skilled workers in Toowoomba and on the Darling Downs?
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Prior to the changes, workers in regional areas could apply for a waiver of this requirement under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, allowing regional industry to be competitive with metropolitan areas.
By sponsoring two chefs under the scheme, the owners opened the restaurant and created more than a dozen job opportunities for Toowoomba residents.
These positions would be the first to go if Qi'lin was forced to downsize.
In a letter to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison, Mr Scott asked that the current policy be reviewed, advising that the situation had become critical.
"The advice we have received from all sources is that there is a drastic shortage of chefs in all capital cities and thus there is no prospect of attracting such employees to regional Australia," Mr Scott said.
"We suspect there are many regional businesses in a similar situation."
Immigration Policy Changes
- On July 1 2012 the requirement for sponsored workers to achieve the score of six was enforced in all rural areas of Australia.
- Since these changes workers have had to apply for the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457).