This month, businesses from across Yass Valley came together for the Yass Valley Business Chamber’s August Networking Breakfast. The Breakfast included a panel discussion surrounding challenges and opportunities within the hospitality industry. 

President of the Yass Business Chamber Jack Walker explained that opportunities for hospitality businesses in Yass Valley included training programs through TAFE and Sparks, and early engagement with the local high school to offer work experience opportunities. The potential to utilise Yass High School facilities for hospitality training was also discussed.

Challenges faced by the Yass hospitality industry included staff retention, limited transport within Yass Valley, an unstable industry due to covid, rising food and service costs and inflation, finding skilled or willing unskilled workers, and competing with ACT job opportunities. 

These challenges and opportunities were identified during a Community Forum called by Sparks Ginninderry and Strategic Development Group, supported by the Yass Valley Business Chamber. This month’s networking breakfast was a continuation of the forum and built on the discussions by bringing together four different local industry stakeholders on the panel.

The panel discussed the challenges and opportunities with a focus on understanding how businesses, education and training providers can come together, cooperate and identify solutions that help to address the challenges and act on the opportunities in the short, mid, and long term.

Panellists included local businessman Daniel Neuhaus, owner of Six8 Coffee Roasters and Trader and Co. Mr Neuhaus is familiar with the discussed challenges of finding, training and retaining staff.

Trader and Co – Toni Neuhaus

Fiona Wykes, the career advisor at Yass High School, brought unique insight to the panel by outlining the needs, desires and wants of young adults coming into the workforce. 

As the relieving TAFE Services Coordinator, panellist Talliesin Ryder offered the panel her understanding of current training challenges and opportunities available.

Also on the panel was Janine Linklate, Employment Facilitator for the Capital Region and Chair of the Local Jobs Program. Ms Linklate engages with people at all levels to develop programs and projects which provide personal and professional development and sustainable employment opportunities.

“The challenges being experienced by the hospitality industry are impactful, especially in terms of businesses’ ability to operate normally,” said Mr Walker. “We have heard that some businesses have had to assess opening hours and even revert to COVID styles of take-away service.”

Many of the challenges Yass Hospitality businesses face are not exclusive to the industry. Last month during a networking breakfast, the Yass Valley Business Chamber held a similar panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities surrounding the local music industry in Yass Valley. This panel identified challenges such as lack of transportation and accommodation and finding staff and volunteers as major impediments to a successful operation.

Mr Walker explained that breakfast networking events like these are important in bringing business together to discuss ideas, introduce new solutions and ultimately to provide a platform for constructive collaboration. 

“The last three panels have started to highlight a real need for the Local, State and Federal Governments to stand up and do more in Yass Valley. We need to see real solutions being implemented in timely manners, not just reports,  master plans and strategy documents,” he said.

“Across Yass Valley we need to see more successful grants delivering infrastructure investment, especially in essential services like roads, water filtration, sewer. We need more  affordable accomodation options being delivered to the community so employees can be housed and retained. We need improved facilitation and encouragement of sustainable business in Yass Valley, and less excuses,” Mr Walker urged. 

Next month’s Yass Valley Businesses Chamber Networking Breakfast will be held on Friday the 2nd of September at local café Kaffeine 2582. The Business Chamber welcomes businesses and associate members from community groups and not-for-profit organisations. 

Image a top: Toni Neuhaus at Trader & Co.

Southerly Jones