Are we also suffering from a lack of investment in our employees by large swathes of the industry, a dearth which has resulted in many young people not seeing the industry as one that offers a bright career? A lack of care from some operators who see their employees as transient, and treat them as such?
There’s no doubt that both Covid-19 and Brexit have played a part. There was arguably a degree of racist sentiment to the voting for Brexit, in the main a negative attitude towards foreigners in this country – yet at the same time, we all want our delicious naan breads which have to be hand pulled from a 600 degree oven…
However, I’m not sure there’s many parents who would want their kids peeling naans off the wall of a clay oven. Ultimately the harsh reality is, there are hospitality jobs that we can’t fill with our “snowflake generation” – fact.
Big crisis under the surface
As for Covid-19 (or do I need a letter from the Greek alphabet for it now), that has also had an impact. Staff have had the best part of a year off and simply don’t want to go back to pulling double shifts while their mates are out having fun.
Additionally, there’s a big crisis under the surface that is about to become reality – people currently working in our industry that have come from other professions will soon be going back to their first jobs and careers and this staff crisis will become a lot worse in my opinion.
Stepping back from throwing mud at politicians and snowflakes, the trade also has to ask itself some direct questions - have we done enough to recruit and train the people we had to keep them and nurture their careers?
Need to be better
In the main, the answer has to be no. As for those businesses that laid-off all their staff as soon as the lockdown hit, are you surprised they don’t want to come back to work for you?
As for those that laid their staff off when Boris closed our industry down, only to backtrack when Rishi announced the furlough, well, it was probably too late to save your reputation with your team – and we’re talking about some of our most famous operators and chefs.
The industry hasn’t taken training and development seriously for far too long and that attitude has to have a part to play here. We need to be better as an industry.
We need to stop talking about it and make serious strides to making this an industry to be proud of, not just a part time job before people move onto bigger and better things.