The hospitality industry is in dire need of skilled workers despite rising job losses due to COVID-19 - especially among women.
Unemployment is officially 5.3 percent and statistics show more women than men have been seeking work.
From March to September, there were 22,000 fewer employed women and 19,700 of these came from tourism-related industries, including accommodation, transport, travel agencies, sightseeing operators and hospitality.
Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois says hospitality has traditionally attracted a higher portion of women. But despite the impact of COVID-19 on female unemployment the industry is experiencing a skills shortage.
"While we don't have a specific breakdown of those who have lost jobs during COVID, what we can tell you is the continued skills shortage in our industry means that anyone who is out of work will find plenty of opportunities to gain meaningful employment with our businesses," Bidois says.
Similarly, a new survey by Tourism Industry Aotearoa found 60 percent of the 318 respondents are desperate to find workers ahead of summer. Queenstown Mayor Jim Bolt said it's a major issue in the region.
"We've lost 1500 of our migrant workers out of the district so operators are finding it difficult to fill vacancies," Bolt told The Breeze on Wednesday.
An MBIE spokesperson said the Government is aware of the impact of COVID-19 on employment and is working on programmes for specific community groups.
"Women, Māori and Pasifika people are more likely to have been affected by job losses, and need support to develop their skills, and find secure and fulfilling employment," MBIE said.
These include the Maori Trades and Training Fund, a grant-based fund to promote partnerships between the Crown and Māori communities. The He Poutama Rangatahi programme will help to remove barriers to employment, education and training by funding community programmes.
For those considering moving into hospitality, The Restaurant Association and Ministry of Social Development are running a 'Hospo Start' programme. There are also professional development courses for people already working in the industry.