The global hospitality industry is facing a staffing crisis but what can be done to tackle it? Fighting Jersey’s new migration policy is a good place to start, according to the Jersey Hospitality Association’s Simon Soar:
‘When we talk about the challenges facing our industry, the biggest issues revolve around staffing. We have a good amount of visitor spend here and tourism numbers are looking okay, but making sure we have sufficient staff is what really gives the industry cause for concern.
‘Staffing levels are at an all time low, by a long shot, and it’s not just a local problem – there is a global shortage of staff. Being a small island and depending on seasonal workers, however, means the problem is exacerbated here.’
The impact on Jersey
‘We take on around 1,600 seasonal workers every year. It would be immoral to expect the local population to fill the employment gap by taking on a job for only half a year. This is why we need to bring people in.
‘A new migration policy outlined by Jersey States will have a serious effect on staff continuity. A kitchen porter, for example, is considered a low-skilled worker and will only be allowed to stay on the island for nine months. So every nine months, employers will have to replace staff and train new employees. It’s disruptive and costly, and we are going to fight this tooth and nail.’
The perfect storm
‘Staff shortages are something the industry is seeing around the world, and there are a number of reasons for it – it’s the perfect storm. One of the things we’re having to do is re-educate people about the opportunities offered by a career in hospitality – and we’re not aiming this kids and young people. Young people are coming to us interested, but it’s often the parents who have misconceptions.
‘There’s also a problem with staff expectation, particularly among the younger generation, who don’t necessarily understand the commitment and hours required. What we’re finding is that employers are having to adjust to these expectations.
‘Customers have expectations too. If you look at the price increase for food and drink, it’s not out of step with the increase in RPI. Yet customers are wanting more and wanting to pay less, which has a knock-on effect on staff wages.
‘It’s a multilayered problem and what we have to do is continue to offer incentives, re-educate, and engage with policy makers to ensure the interests of our industry aren’t overlooked.’