Critical Hospitality Symposium, Critical Hospitality Symposium II: Hospitality IS Society

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Kia ora and welcome to a hospitality career in Aotearoa New Zealand: Welcome to what?
Shelagh K Mooney

Last modified: 2018-07-02


New Zealand has historically relied upon the work of migrants to keep the wheels of the hospitality industry churning. Currently, the issue of migrant workers has become a hot topic but not merely because the significant rise in tourism numbers has meant a shortage of skilled workers. In the recent past, hospitality work offered an attractive route to permanent residency, and ultimately, citizenship. For this reason, many overseas students were attracted by the idea of a career in hospitality and tourism. Recently, however, to counter the widespread exploitation of workers in the sector, the New Zealand government has sharply increased the pay threshold and skill level required for employers to be able to obtain a working visa for non-residents. On the one hand, this tightening of regulations has led to overseas students and immigrants competing for the least desirable entry-level jobs to gain coveted work experience. On the other hand, the media regularly expose cases of modern day slavery, where migrant chefs and service workers have been lured to New Zealand by false promises of good jobs and the mirage of visa sponsorship by unscrupulous and predatory employers.

This presentation will explore how students, who have completed the final year of a hospitality degree, negotiated this charged New Zealand employment scape. It is based on a series of semi-structured interviews with the same individuals in an undergraduate cohort each successive year during their three-year degree. The group included both domestic and overseas students. In that time, many worked full-time in hospitality jobs in Auckland, so became familiar with hospitality workplace practices and industry norms. Insights will be given into the participants’ career hopes, dreams and plans, and for some, what appeared to be the extinguishing of their previous passion to follow a hospitality career.

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