Australia is still pretty much in need of cooks and chefs to work in the country's renowned food industry.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, in a press statement said that highly qualified chefs and cooks would continue to be welcome in Australia under a range of migration options.

The Minister said the removal of these occupations from the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) would not hinder the industry's ability to target the skilled workers that it needs.

Senator Evans said that, "The removal of the classifications for chefs and cooks from the Skilled Occupation List will not affect the ability of restaurateurs to bring in qualified staff to meet demand in the industry." He further added that, "We have reformed the skilled migration system to allow employers to target the skills they need in their businesses."

The senator stated that employers could nominate chefs and cooks on 457 visas, employer-sponsored visas and the new State migration plans.

Senator Evans said employers were already using the system to recruit qualified staff with almost 1,000 cooks and chefs being granted employer-sponsored visas since April 30 in 2009-10. This is a significant increase on the 420 sponsored by employers in 2007-08.

'Despite more than 4,000 chefs and cooks being granted visas under the independent skilled migration program in 2007-08, there were critical shortages in the industry,' Senator Evans said.

Evans said that despite the issuance of more than 4,000 visas for cooks and chefs under the skilled migration program three years ago, there is still a shortage of workers in the industry.

He added that it shows that most of the people who got the visa are currently not working in the restaurant industry.

"Clearly the majority of these people were not working as either cooks or chefs," the Senator said. He explained that the government has made some changes ensuring that only those that are qualified for the job in the industry will be granted visas.

Senator Evans added that the administration is determined to create a demand-driven migration program meeting the needs of the economy and employers. As of 31 March this year, there were 3210 cooks and chefs working in Australia on employer-nominated 457 visas, according to the press statement.

Another option is for State and territories to nominate occupations such as cooks and chefs for inclusion in their individual migration plans.

"The Government has streamlined the processing arrangements for the employer and state-sponsored visa programs to make it easier and quicker for employers to recruit workers from overseas," Senator Evans said.