Businesses in the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland are expressing concern that they cannot find staff for a variety of jobs, leading to many firms not being able to open for as many hours as they would like to. This is likely to be a huge challenge for the industry for some time to come, which is far from ideal as businesses open up and try to make up for lost time as customers begin to return in numbers.
Not Enough Workers To Fill The Vacancies
This isn`t just a problem in Northern Ireland, the whole of the UK has been hit by staff shortages in hospitality, with Wetherspoons owner Tim Martin one of a number of people to express concerns over how he is going to staff his pubs. There is some irony in this of course, Tim Martin has been a big supporter of Brexit and this is being cited as one of the main reasons there are not enough workers to fill the vacancies in the hospitality trade.
Next Big Challenge After Covid
Speaking about the staff shortage problem to Belfast Live, Colin Neill, Hospitality Ulster’s CEO, said:
“I don’t know anybody who is fully staffed.
“It’s huge and it’s not just Northern Ireland – it’s right across the UK. I would say after COVID, it’s our next biggest challenge and for a number of reasons. Pre-COVID we were Northern Ireland’s fourth-largest sector employer with 54,000 direct jobs. Nobody has a handle on the shortage because nobody knows.
“If you ask anybody, they say ‘I need every type’ of staff.”
“Coming into Brexit there was a reduction in access to labour and pre-Brexit there was a global shortage of chefs, then when we got into COVID our European workforce went home,” he explained. “They were maybe worried about getting sick here on their own or went home to look after family and then haven’t come back.
“We have then obviously people on furlough and when you are on furlough you can have another job.
“I know a case of one person who had another job, got furloughed in that job and then got another job – so they were getting two furloughs and a salary. Others are going ‘I’m not going to come back yet because I don’t know if you will get to stay open’ – there’s all the uncertainty until people know we are fully back.”
Not Enough Bodies To Fill All The Roles
“There just aren’t the bodies – that’s the killer. I don’t know where they are,” he continued.
“You could argue ‘you pay crap for dishwashers’ or whatever,” but he said “it’s at every level – from managerial level right through, skilled, unskilled, front of house, back of house”.
“Chefs are well paid here and they just don’t exist,” he added.
“There’s a number of factors playing into it but what we are seeing is resulting in premises opening a limited time because they don’t have the staff to run them for full hours.
“People are short staffed and instead of opening a seven day week, you’re opening five.”
If there are any people out there looking for work I am sure you could find a job within the hospitality industry right now. This is just another hurdle that the sector has to overcome in what has been the toughest year or so in living memory.