Labour shortage challenges businesses, including bakery
A LACK of rental accommodation is continuing to hamper labour force needs in parts of the Alpine Shire, with the Mt Beauty Bakery among those feeling the impact.
The bakery has not closed its doors in over 30 years, but recent difficulties finding staff has forced it to shut for two days a week.
Bakery owners, Kiona Best and her partner Jake Keogh, say having to close their business Wednesdays and Thursdays is upsetting and frustrating to them, and the wider community.
Ms Best said the need for another baker, and other staff shortages, left them little choice but to reduce the bakery hours.
She said that despite finding a suitable baker back in February, red tape involving a TSS visa nomination has left them still waiting, with approval times estimated between 8-11 months.
“It’s impossible to keep working around the clock seven days a week when you physically don’t have enough staff to cover the roster,” she said.
“We are currently 16 shifts short per week in the shop plus a full time baker.
“Closing two days a week is the only way to keep operating.
“The numbers are great with a 25 per cent increase in sales due to more visitors coming to the area, but having to close will
undo all those gains.”
The bakery is not the only business finding it difficult to get staff.
Speaking on Alpine Radio’s Brunch program last week, Alpine Shire mayor John Forsyth said “The problem is finding accommodation for staff, due to long term rental properties switching to AIR B&Bs, making it impossible to get longer term accommodation. The situation
is happening all over the Alpine Shire including the ski resort areas, even though they provide a lot of accommodation for staff.”
While some cafe and restaurant businesses in Mt Beauty employ locals who are older and reside in the area, generally the cafe workers and baristas are younger.
Ms Best said most of her staff have been with the business for more than five years, which is an age in hospitality but they move on for university or a new career based position.
“We would usually have a steady stream of people waiting to fill those roles, but a lack of back packers, international students and non residents has created a massive void of staff across the country,” she said.
“While our borders remain closed things are unlikely to get better.”