Cornwall restaurants struggle to recruit as they prepare for busy summer season

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report

A combination of housing shortages, lack of international staff and people not returning from furlough is having a huge impact on staff numbers in Cornwall's hospitality industry.

On Monday (17 May) indoor dining can resume marking the most significant milestone to date for businesses in the South West as England's lockdown restrictions ease.

But restaurants, hotels and pub owners across the region are struggling to hire enough trained staff to cope with the impending demand this summer.

Fergus Chalmers is a newly recruited Chef De Partie for Rick Stein's restaurants in Padstow.

He said he was offered his job in December, but it took until March before he could find somewhere to live.

"I had this vision of a small seaside town, I thought it would be quite easy to find accommodation but it just turned out to be very difficult in the end," he said.

"The whole of the centre of Padstow seems to be let out to tourists."

Places like Padstow are already busy with tourists before the next phase of restrictions are relaxed Credit: ITV News

Rick Stein Restaurants would normally hire a quarter of their workforce from Europe and rely on international staff, especially during the peak season between May-October.

Jack Stein, Chef Director of the group, said: "Staff and customers will have to bear with each other for a while it's an extra challenge to be this busy straight away."

In Exmouth, Michael Caines is facing similar challenges with fewer international workers in the UK and the population in the South West due to rise exponentially.

He said: "Our local population isn't enough to sustain that amount of work and so we are struggling to get people into jobs."

The Michelin star chef said more needs to be done to attract local people into working for hospitality and doesn't like the Government describing people in the industry as low skilled.

"Hospitality is not valued as a professional industry but that's not the case we've got some bright people, extraordinary entrepreneurs, it's an important sector that employs so many people and a massive contribution to our GDP here in the South West.

The South West is set to be the most in demand region for staycations this summer. Credit: ITV News

Meanwhile, recruiters said those who have been waiting on furlough for the industry to restart have moved into different industries.

Karen Wisby from Frontline Recruitment in Weymouth said she does not know how they are going to change the minds of people to come back.

"Chefs, for example, have gone and become delivery drivers for e-commerce businesses, earning about the same sort of money on a day shift and not on a split shift."

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