Hawke's Bay Today
Harder to find hospo staff
Border closure among factors hitting industry
Long hours, late nights and low pay make it hard for employers to find staff in the hospitality industry. But it can actually be very rewarding, says a Hastings restaurateur.
Laura Crespi, of Sazio, a trendy pasta bar on Heretaunga St in Hastings central, is one of many around the region looking for new staff.
She’s had just four applicants for the front of house manager position — two from overseas and two others without experience. “Right now it’s a struggle.”
Originally from Italy, when she first started in New Zealand hospo about nine years ago, she was earning $17.50 — “coming from Europe that was good money”.
One of the big problems is that many people don’t see hospitality as a career, which was very different from her experience overseas, she said.
“I have my own place now and am very proud of what we’re doing and that’s an extra value. It wasn’t a career 10 years ago but now it is.”
Those in the industry had to love people, she said. “To me it’s giving a service and seeing people happy.”
She said many people expected it to be an “easy job” but acknowledged it came with its “sacrifices”.
“People go do hospitality at EIT thinking it’s easy but it’s actually hard work. It’s demanding and there’s long hours or late shifts and they drop it.”
Her staff are paid the living wage once they’ve completed their training. Crespi said it was hard having to pay 16-year-old with no experience the same wage as someone experienced. “It’s very hard to keep up with minimum wage changing every year.”
The industry had also been badly impacted by border closures due to Covid-19. “In the last year or so, a lot of hospitality in New Zealand is being done by backpackers. Now that’s out of the equation, there’s absolutely no one.”
She wanted visa extensions for hospitality workers, not just those in the horticulture sector. “The hospitality industry is going down. “What’s going to happen when the borders reopen?”
Crespi said there were fewer people going out now but demand would grow as tourists returned and there wouldn’t be enough staff.
She’s not the only one who’s worried, with concerned restaurateurs meeting with Hastings District Council at EIT on Tuesday night to discuss the hospitality crisis and how to “Serve the Bay”.
That same night, restaurants around the country switched off their lights for two minutes at 7pm to bring attention to the staffing crisis. The Restaurant Association estimates an extra 20,000 hospitality workers will be needed nationwide over the next three years.