Hawke's Bay Today

Harder to find hospo staff

Border closure among factors hitting industry

- Gianina Schwanecke

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.

 ?? Photo / Paul Taylor ?? Several restaurant­s and cafes around Hawke’s Bay are looking for staff.
Photo / Paul Taylor Several restaurant­s and cafes around Hawke’s Bay are looking for staff.
 ??  ?? Laura Crespi
Laura Crespi

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