Hospitality Sector Facing New Wave of Labour Shortages

Hospitality students are being snapped up and restaurants are temporarily closing as the industry is hit with another wave of severe labour shortages.

The industry is demanding urgent visa extensions, border exemptions for critical workers, and extended working hours for student visas.

TradeMe reported a record high more than 50 percent increase in hospitality job listings.

After struggling through lockdowns, New Zealand restaurants and cafes say they are once again facing closure.

Border closures and immigration rules are making it increasingly difficult for the hospitality sector to find enough skilled workers to run their businesses.

If the Government doesn’t act soon, the hospitality industry will be in crisis.

Chefs are working seven days a week because they can’t find chefs or waiters because Kiwis don’t want to do it, and New Zealand isn’t letting anyone in.

The industry will be flooded when the borders re-open, and it simply won’t have the workforce to keep up.

New Zealand School of Food and Wine director Celia Hay said the crisis is so bad, all her students have already been hired and she’s struggling to find more.

Hay commented that the lack of international students has caused another tear in the job market.

She said the international students who could work 20 hours a week on student visas were a good source for restaurants to fill in those part-time hours. However, the border closures have suffocated this source, eliminating the entire student market.

Infometrics economist Brad Olsen said the sector’s current work shortages are some of the worst in recent history, according to figures in the latest quarterly survey from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

In contrast to the agriculture and horticulture industries, the hospitality industry has received no government support to bring skilled workers into the country.

Olsen said the Government needs to establish a long-term plan that offers a solution for the sectors struggling with workforce shortages.

The challenge of finding workers will extend beyond this Covid period and the Government needs to plan for a long-term future.