Hotelier Jerry Schwartz has revealed plans to open a Newcastle-based training college next year to help address a skills shortage in hospitality and related sectors.
The private college would offer courses in hospitality, IT, spa therapy and brewing.
Dr Schwartz already employs about 1200 people in the sectors across his three Hunter hotels - Hunter Valley Crowne Plaza, Rydges Newcastle and Newcastle Novotel.
"It will be fantastic to have a locally-based college that can serve all of the hotels in this region," Dr Schwartz, who is a shareholder in the training project, said.
"It will allow me, as an employer, to tap into students during their training but also once they graduate."
The college is seeking registration. It is hoped it will start operating at a yet-to-be-disclosed location early next year.
Dr Schwartz said the college would complement rather than compete with existing training providers such as TAFE.
"What our mandate is is to bring people into the hospitality industry and that means, first of all, we've got to convince people that it's a great industry to go into then you have to provide quality training for them," Dr Schwartz said.
"One of the other important things we will be doing is to help people who have trained overseas to get Australian qualifications."
It is envisaged that the college's in-house training brewery would also have a retail component to it.
Business Hunter chief executive Bob Hawes said the Hunter Hospitality College plan would broaden the choice for potential entrants to the region's hospitality and IT sectors.
"The initiative would be a useful complement to the courses and programs like the new Bachelor of Tourism, Hospitality and Events to be offered through a partnership of TAFE NSW and the University of Newcastle," Mr Hawes said.
"The critical circumstances in the employment market currently demand a multi-dimensional response so employees can get the work they are looking for and employers can access a well trained workforce. This proposal will fit into that matrix nicely."
"We have seen emerging from the national Jobs and Skills summit an intention to broaden the 'fee free' course offer across the TAFE system and whilst this is likely to be a significant drawcard to students, trainees and apprentices, we believe there is room for variety in the providers particularly given the link Mr Schwartz can offer across his portfolio of businesses."
A recent Business NSW survey found 51 per cent of businesses with a shortage of skilled staff reported that it had resulted in significant negative impacts such as losing customers and missing out on new opportunities.
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