Staff shortages in Portsmouth hospitality sector 'a problem' as industry hit by 'uncertainty' - but there is help to find workers

LANDLORDS struggling to find staff amid the fallout from the pandemic have said an initiative to boost recruitment for venues is ‘great’.

By Steve Deeks
Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 12:30 pm

Those working in the hospitality sector have aired their difficulties in finding workers amid ‘uncertainty’ in the industry.

But they have welcomed the new recruitment initiative run by The News’s owner JPIMedia.

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Angus Reid and his wife Sherry Reid at The Chairmakers on 3 February 2021. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Furlough was initially blamed as the chief culprit for people ‘not wanting to work’ but now the ‘pingdemic’ is having a significant impact on staffing with many having to isolate for days.

The result of the increasing numbers being forced to isolate has inevitably resulted in places being left short of workers at a time when business was showing an upward trend as restrictions were lifted.

Angus Reid, landlord of The Chairmakers in Apless Lane, World's End, said: ‘There has been a lot of uncertainty in the hospitality industry and I think it will be another year before things are more stable.

‘It is not easy to get staff. We are having a lot of 16 or 17-year-old applicants which are not suitable. All the pubs around us are also advertising for staff and have been doing so constantly.

Garry Disdle, 63, and his wife Sue Disdle, 56, pictured in their pub Sir Loin of Beef in Highland Road, Southsea. Picture: Sam Stephenson

‘Staff have been put off the industry by the uncertainty. If you are looking for a job you may not want to work in a pub and may prefer to work in a supermarket.

‘Brexit has also played its role with the country losing around 500,000 eastern Europeans who have gone home.

‘We are having to adjust our hours and close earlier at 9pm and staff are having to do extra hours to make up the shortfall.’

He added: ‘We would welcome any help. We are so busy and need experienced staff who can look after customers.

Staff needed for the hospitality sector (photo: Niklas Halle'n/AFP via Getty Images)

‘It’s a great idea to help those of us in the hospitality sector looking for staff.’

The News is aware of the challenges faced by many businesses in the hospitality sector trying to hire staff right now - and we want to help.

Our company JPIMedia has a team of experienced recruitment advisers who understand the pain of not having a full team in place, ultimately resulting in the potential loss of money and customers.

As time is precious, they can support local businesses with their recruitment needs, from searching databases of 1,000s of CVs and shortlisting relevant candidates to designing eye-catching adverts to appeal to the right people.

Garry Disdle, landlord at the Sir Loin of Beef on Highland Road, Southsea, said he was ‘hopeful’ such a scheme would ‘help turn things around’ as his venue struggles with staff shortages.

‘We were ok with staff to begin with but now we are struggling with staff getting pinged by the NHS app telling them to isolate,’ he said.

‘We have had three staff being told to isolate for 10 or 12 days even if they have had two jabs and a clear test. It is a problem.

‘We are losing staff at a time when things were starting to pick up as restrictions were lifted. But we are now finding it harder.

‘It is harder to cover shifts and we are having to do double shifts while I also now do more. I am also having to ask people I know in the trade to cover for us.

‘If staff have a clear test and are double jabbed they should be able to work. It is annoying.’

He added: ‘You can’t find more staff. Lots of people are isolating so that is stopping them looking for jobs and furlough is still going on so people are happy to take the money and not work.

‘It is a bad situation. The government needs to change things because they are causing problems.’

Rodney Watson, who runs Southsea Village on Palmerston Road, said: ‘It’s very tough at the moment with staff being pinged and told to isolate.

‘I’m lucky because I’ve got a big team but others only have smaller teams and are struggling. It is quite a problem. Customers still expect quality service and do not understand how difficult it is with fewer staff.’

And Rodney thinks things could get worse before they get better. ‘I think it will get worse especially as restrictions have eased and you’ve got more people mixing in nightclubs, for example,’ he said.

‘It means the infection rates will go up and more people will be pinged.’

Steve Morgan, landlord of The Leopold, Albert Road, Southsea, said: ‘I’ve been lucky with staff but I know a lot of other places that have struggled for staff.

‘Staff who were on furlough have gone and got other jobs and left the trade.’

Latest figures from hospitality industry trade body UKHospitality confirm 85 per cent of venues are looking to hire chefs while 80 per cent need front-of-house staff.

Some within the industry have suggested a shorter working week and increased wages to attract back workers.

With furlough officially ending in September, there will be students looking for jobs that may fill some vacancies.

UKHospitality intends to run sessions in conjunction with JobCentre Plus across England, Scotland and Wales to help promote opportunities to job-seekers within the hospitality sector.

Local government has also played its part. Throughout the pandemic, councils distributed more than £11bn to 880,000 small businesses in 2020, continuing to help businesses reopen safely.

JPIMedia’s new support packages are now more cost effective than ever before so if you are in the hospitality business, call them today on 0207 855 7577 quoting ‘hospitality hiring support’.

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