'We're rushed off our feet': How hospitality has been hit by staffing shortages

After months of closure, Wales' hospitality industry has been hit by another blow - a lack of staff. In some cases, it has prevented businesses from reopening fully. In others, it has meant they cannot reopen at all.

Katherine Murphy, the assistant manager at the Sun Verge pub in Rhyl, believes that the main reason for staff shortages is the pandemic, and people looking for work in other industries.

Discussing its impact, she said: "It's hit hospitality so hard. We're finding it hard to recruit staff because they're still getting furlough. They've gone off to supermarkets and things like that so we really, really need a good season so staff will come back to us.

"We're struggling to recruit. We're rushed off our feet so we need more, more, more."

Assistant pub manager Katherine Murphy says they are rushed off their feet due to a lack of staff. Credit: ITV Wales

David Cattrall, the Managing Director at Harlech Foodservice, says a shortage of chefs specifically has meant many restaurants cannot reopen.

"What we're hearing from our customers across our delivery area is that they're struggling with chefs", he said.

"They cannot get enough chefs and that's preventing businesses from opening.

"From us as a food service supplier, we're very short on drivers. There were some stats released around two weeks ago by the industry saying there were 76,000 vacancies for drivers at the moment right across the UK.

"We cannot simply get enough drivers and all parts of the supply chain are having to review how they move stock all the way through."

David believes staffing is nearing crisis point across the hospitality and tourism industries. Credit: ITV Wales

"People have found other jobs during furlough. During the lockdowns, they moved to industries that were doing well.

"By contrast, in hospitality, food service and supply, we've completely lost our industry - we've completely closed down. It will probably take a while, if ever to return to our industry.

The Welsh Government says they are aware of the problem and are working to support the industries with recruitment.

A spokesperson, said: "Moving forward, a key focus in our recovery plan for tourism and hospitality is to support the wider recruitment, retention and skills agenda the sector is facing. We have set up a Tourism Skills Partnership with the industry to consider this issue."

A combination of the pandemic and Brexit has resulted in a staffing shortage according to those in the industry. Credit: PA Images

But the pandemic is not the only thing that has impacted recruitment according to David Cattrall. He also believes that Brexit has caused issues in terms of recruitment.

"It's the fact that we're not allowing a number of Europeans to come into very seasonal areas and top up the jobs that for many, many years, they've traditionally done."

Discussing the future and ways of tackling the problem, he believed that the UK government should ''allow some some of those people to return."

He said: "In terms of hospitality, chefs is a big challenge. We don't have enough in the UK. You can talk about apprentice schemes but that's medium to long term.

"We used to have talent coming in from across Europe. I think for me, should allow some of those people to return.

"If you run a farm, you are allowed to bring resource in from across Europe to help you pick the fruit. You can't do that anymore in hospitality. It's been turned off far too quickly. There needs to be some kind of taping for the hospitality sector."

In response, the Home Office said they want employers to concentrate on the domestic work force rather than relying on labour from abroad.

A spokesperson said: “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has implemented an unprecedented package of measures to support workers and businesses right across the UK, as well as new reforms to ensure businesses have access to talent from across the world so that we can Build Back Better from the pandemic and support the national economic recovery.

“We want employers to focus on training and investing in our domestic work force, especially those needing to find new employment as a result of the impact of the measures necessary to tackle Covid-19, rather than relying on labour from abroad.

 “At the same time, we are making it simpler for employers to attract the best and brightest from around the world to come to the UK to complement the skills we already have.”

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