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Fears staff shortages could hit hospitality sector recovery

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Thousands of hospitality workers have sought employment in other sectors. (Picture posed) Photo: Dmitriy Adamov

Thousands of hospitality workers have sought employment in other sectors. (Picture posed) Photo: Dmitriy Adamov

Thousands of hospitality workers have sought employment in other sectors. (Picture posed) Photo: Dmitriy Adamov

Ireland’s €9bn hospitality sector will struggle to recover after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions because of a looming staff crisis and a shortage of skilled personnel such as chefs.

The Government was warned that extended support measures will now be required to assist an industry crippled by an expected 16-month shutdown and the flood of skilled staff to other sectors of the economy for income reasons.

Irish Hotels Federation official and Kingsley Hotel manager, Fergal Harte, said it won’t be as simple as “pushing a button” to restart an industry which directly and indirectly employs one-in-10 Irish workers.

“The shortage of skilled workers is something everyone is very concerned about,” he said.

“There was an issue over some types of skilled workers such as chefs even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.”

Ireland has now lost an estimated 150,000 hospitality jobs as the Level 5 pandemic control restrictions cost the €9bn industry two of its biggest annual spending events – New Year and St Valentine’s Day. Both St Patrick’s Day and Easter are also set to prove a wipe-out.

In desperation, thousands of hospitality workers have sought employment in other sectors – with no guarantee they will transfer back once the Covid-19 restrictions are eased. “It is an issue of concern for the IHF and other industry groups. Skilled staff are a crucial part of the sector’s recovery.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin acknowledged that Irish hotels, restaurants, pubs and cafes have borne the brunt of the economic fall-out from the pandemic.

“We have to acknowledge that there are thousands and thousands of jobs dependent on (hospitality and tourism).”

Both the Irish Hotels Federation and the Restaurants Association of Ireland warned that the sector will need extended support to fully recover.
Vintners groups warned their industry has been devastated by the pandemic.

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Mr Martin stressed that recovery now hinges on vaccination – and ongoing State-aid packages for critical sectors.

“Business support will continue - we will not be pulling the rug from any of those supports, there will be no cliff-edge in relation to the supports.

"When we come out of Covid-19 – and we will come out of it – we are going to have to help the hospitality sector to reboot and restart,” he said.


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