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Zen approach to employment

Zen Sushi owner Craig Alexander (back right) has helped (front) Kayleigh Filicietti, apprentice chefs Matthew Winner (back) and Gabriel Zenz-McCarthy into Australia's growing wokrforce.
Zen Sushi owner Craig Alexander (back right) has helped (front) Kayleigh Filicietti, apprentice chefs Matthew Winner (back) and Gabriel Zenz-McCarthy into Australia's growing wokrforce. Jay Cronan

THERE were more than 30,000 full-time jobs created in Australia last month – and Northern Rivers employers did their fair share.

Lismore CBD restaurant Zen Sushi is a small business but has become a relatively large employer. It has recently added a full-time staffer – on top of the two trainees it put on in the past six months.

Apprentices Gabriel Zenz-McCarthy, 19, of Georgica, and Mathew Winner, 17, of Empire Valley, will become the first people from the region to qualify in Asian cookery, the owner, Craig Alexander, said.

“TAFE was only able to offer training in Western cooking so we have gone to JCE Positive Outcomes in Yamba to start off,” Mr Alexander said.

Where they would specialise in Japanese cooking was yet to be decided, said Mr Alexander, whose wife Mayumi, a qualified chef, is educating the lads on site.

Zen Sushi also employed 17-year-old Kayleigh Filicietti of Lismore full-time at the beginning of March.

She will fill a service role while undertaking a two-year training course in hospitality.

The restaurant moved from Woodlark Street to Keen Street in December, in what owner Mr Alexander admits was a risky move.

He was bracing for the worst effects of the GFC, and working out scenarios for possible drop-offs in business.

But the opposite happened: sales are up 30 per cent and he believes Zen Sushi has helped to revive what was formerly a rather undesirable area.

“The whole side of the street is cleaning up, and a lot of entrepreneurs are wanting to move here now,” Mr Alexander said.

The 50-seat eatery is often full at lunchtime, he said.

Zen Sushi’s success story contains an element of luck, Mr Alexander said, but it is certainly true that Lismore is becoming increasingly attractive to traders large and small

Lismore Business Facilitator Mark Batten said there was ‘a lot happening’ with businesses investigating moving to the city.

“We have had inquiries from retailers, service providers and entrepreneurs, many of whom would seek to employ people,” he said.

 

JOBS JOY FOR MARCH

• Full-time employment increased 30,100 to 7,691,200.

• Part-time employment decreased 10,600 to 3,297,100. The number of persons looking for full-time work decreased 3800 to 442,000.

• The number of persons looking for part-time work increased 8000 to 177,100.



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