Skills Connect InternationalBusiness

Skills Connect helps hospitality industry re-staff

A new hospitality staffing solution has been launched in Australia, with a focus on helping venues adapt to the challenges of reopening after COVID-19 lockdowns. Skills Connect International (SCI) offers career transition, training, and job placement across a variety of industry sectors within hospitality, from junior chefs through to board level executive placements.

“The idea for Skills Connect International was born following the first lockdown in March last year,” explained CEO Roy McCullagh.

“The devastating impact of the lockdown particularly impacted hospitality industry personnel, many of whom found themselves with no job or no income, no support and, in many cases, no family living in Australia to help them.

“The other victims have been the venue owners and operators, many of whom have had to close their doors for good – with bills and mortgages still to pay.

SCI hopes to help the hospitality industry reopen safely with skilled staff in place. The next few months will be critical for businesses, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian declaring that September to be “the month we’re asking everybody to get ready” to open back up and live with COVID-19 in the community.

Berejiklian anticipates the state will reach its goal of 70% vaccination coverage as early as mid-October.

“If you’re a business, start dusting off your COVID safety plan,” she said. “Make sure your employees are vaccinated so we can get back to life at 70% double-dose vaccination. That’s the date we’re working towards. “

Roy McCullagh; Skills Connect

McCullagh (above) said SCI has been working seven days a week with candidates to ensure their resumes are up to date and that they have received their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations.

“We’ve even organised for some candidates to be driven to get their vaccinations,” he revealed. “We have a large number of candidates ready to get back to work. In addition, we have been interviewing and screening overseas based candidates, many of whom are Australian citizens, who have been approved to return once the borders reopen.”   

The five biggest challenges facing hospitality

McCullagh said the five biggest challenges facing the Australian hospitality industry moving forward are:

  1. The lack of backpackers to do the traditional hospitality jobs
  2. The growth in working from home
  3. The lack of interstate and international tourists
  4. The decrease in people joining the industry
  5. The level of tax payable on second jobs being a disincentive for many people  

However, he believes many of those factors will be alleviated by borders reopening.

“Many hospitality employees could not return home to their families, and those that did have not been able to return to Australia,” he said. “That’s had a huge impact on the talent pool available.”

The team at SCI are specialists in working visa procedures and the professional development required for remaining in Australia.

SCI also has direct access to a pipeline of emerging talent from some of the most prestigious hospitality educators in the country.

“Our business model is to give priority to the students graduated from our educational partners to fill vacancies across the industry,” McCullagh said.

Beside placement and mentoring of candidates, SCI also focuses on ensuring they adjust well to their new environments.

“What I love about SCI is that we were all born overseas, and we all call Australia home – or at least our home away from home,” McCullagh noted. “That means we have a unique perspective on what it’s like to establish yourself in a new country or region.    

“We understand the challenges candidates face. We also ensure that both clients and candidates speak to us directly and not a chat bot. We think this personal approach is what sets us apart.”

While some might say launching a hospitality recruitment firm during the Delta phase of COVID-19 is a tough gig, McCullagh isn’t fazed. 

“I thrive on a challenge and launching a company during a pandemic fits that bill,” he concluded. “There will be so much pent-up demand among customers when the industry is allowed to reopen and we can’t wait to work with businesses to help them get back on their feet.”   

Industry leaders from the clubs, pubs and food service sector will join McCullagh for the virtual launch of Skills Connect International on September 24 at 10am. To RSVP, send him an email at:

The hospitality initiatives fighting COVID-19

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