Hope we are all enjoying the sunshine!
Every quarter we hear a report that visitor numbers is up in the country. We were also informed that in 2017 €2 billion was spent on food drink in the country. Our industry employs over a quarter of a million people, yet, we are facing the biggest staffing crisis we have ever seen. The government don’t want to listen and we ask ourselves why. We have such a shortage of staff that restaurants are closing, not only during the week, but also at the height of the season.
In my own business, I believe I am six staff short at the moment. At times when we shout about this issue, we are silenced by calls over overworked, underpaid staff and unsociable hours etc. I have worked in this industry for a long time and I can honestly say the workplace has never been in a better position. Is it perfect? No, but what industry is?
Staff wellbeing is high on the agenda as every business owner want to keep their loyal and hard-working employees. However, equally as with any other industry, in order to be successful, staff will have to start at the bottom and work hard to progress up the chain of management. Is this not the same for every other industry in Ireland?
But what do we want as restaurant owners? We want passionate and fully-trained staff, who see this as a viable long-term career. The only way we can produce this staff force is by training them from a young age in a professional environment. As a past pupil of Cert, I can’t speak highly enough of the structure in which we were trained. It is fair to say that it was hard but we were taught by people who had a passion for this industry and we all experienced a great amount of enjoyment in the experience. Why can’t Government see that this is the only reasonable direction to take? Will this answer all of our prayers? No, of course not, but it would definitely be a positive start in the right direction.
Our CEO, Adrian Cummins, has pinpointed the four main areas we need to address in order to pull the restaurant and hospitality industry from this staff shortage. The Cert is the first, however, we also need work permits to be fast-tracked, we need to regularise the undocumented non-EU nationals in Ireland and we need to allow refugees to work while seeking asylum. I would call on you to help us in our campaign to educate the powers that be on the importance of having fully trained and professional staff in our premises.
Finally, I would like to encourage members to campaign in their local town or region to participate in Foodie Destinations 2018. This is an amazing opportunity for local businesses to bring a keen tourism advantage to their area. Does your region have what it takes to be the next Foodie Destination? Click here to find out more!
President of the RAI