The owner of Pat’s Bar in County Fermanagh said the industry must adapt to a changing world as businesses face staff shortages.
Several businesses in the county have had to shut down for periods in recent months due to self-isolation rules and large numbers of workers leaving the industry.
Pat’s owner Michael Cadden, who also owns the Enniskillen Hotel and Lusty Beg Island Resort, said the problem of staff retention has always existed but has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s not a challenge we’re not used to, living in an area like Fermanagh,” Michael told MyFermanagh.
“It’s something we’ve always struggled with, especially in the more rural areas of Fermanagh, we’ve got a pretty big brain drain, not only to Belfast but also further afield.
“It’s not a new challenge, but it has certainly been exacerbated by the coronavirus, lockdowns and people deciding to leave the industry. “
“There are a lot of people who didn’t go back to work, they were put on leave and just decided not to go back to work.
“Without knowing the answer directly, there is only one thing it can be and there are fewer people in the market looking for a job. They just aren’t there.
The hospitality leader said companies working in the sector must adapt to the changing needs of workers, many of whom have decided to relocate to other industries in search of more sociable hours or a work balance. -healthier life.
Michael added: “My personal view is that as employers we need to ensure that we provide staff with the flexible working conditions they want.
“It’s definitely not just about financial compensation, it’s about the way of life we can offer people, it’s about the flexibility we can have with people.
“In a very large number of cases, people who were perhaps thinking of moving, we were able to find them positions by being flexible with them.
“It might not be possible if you’re in a small organization or maybe even a single point of sale, that flexibility might not be there.
“We had to do some things for the staff in terms of benefits outside and beyond their hourly rate, incentives and bonuses for being an employee.
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Michael insisted that it was time for hospitality to be seen as a “legitimate career path” rather than a stepping stone.
“As an industry there are charters coming up that can set career paths for young people, so it’s not considered a transitional part-time activity while you’re waiting to go to college or to wait to go to your “real” job.
“We want people to start seeing hospitality as a legitimate career.
“Alongside agriculture and the civil service, the hotel industry is a major employer, yet it is not considered by schools or colleges as a career path.
“We can offer as many opportunities to young people as to other more established careers.”
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