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Shortage of skilled workers in the catering industry: Landlords in the region are desperately seeking service staff

Shortage of skilled workers in the catering industry : Landlords in the region are desperately seeking service staff

After many months in the Corona lockdown, the gastronomy is gradually allowed to reopen. But the operators lack service staff. This is already having an impact on some businesses in Bonn and the region.

The pictures are similar in Bonn and the region. After months of lockdown, the engine of the catering industry has started up again, people are happily toasting each other, waiters and waitresses are hurrying from table to table. What's not visible are the economic problems of an industry battered by the pandemic. The experts at the Bonn employment agency know that it takes a lot of time and effort to restart a business. Many companies could not afford it after the losses of the past months. Most employers would first use their existing staff and sound out the market. "Whether they are actually hired, remains to be seen," the employment agency stated.

On the other hand, gastronomic establishments that want to offer customers a pre-Corona menu face a shortage: staff shortages. Many landlords have experienced that employees have jumped ship during the lockdown - for example, to delivery services, retail and Corona test centers. So gaps are opening up.

Restaurateurs in Bonn are looking for temporary staff

Take Bonn, for example: the "Varietee" on the market is currently looking for temporary staff to work as dishwashers and counter staff, among other things, via the placement portal of the university's student union. "We're getting by," the management says of the current situation. At the moment, the restarted operation can be managed mainly with permanent employees who have recently been on short-time work. During the lockdown months, a number of temporary employees left the company - the management understands this, as the temporary students did not end up on state financial aid. Currently, as in many places, only the outdoor area is open - "once full operation starts again, it could be tight at first," says the "Varietee". Then one would have to look again purposefully.

Example Rheinbach: Kwdo Noori, who runs a Mexican restaurant, also complains about a lack of staff: "I can only open selectively at the moment because I lack suitable staff," says the restaurant operator. He is in contact with other landlords from the Glass City, and they all have the same problem. "It is very difficult, most of my former employees have had to change their jobs during Corona and have since found something else," the restaurateur continues. One former permanent employee now works for meat logistics company Rasting, he said.

Noori is now trying to get support through many digital channels. He posts his vacancies on the Rheinbach network, on Facebook, and also via Ebay classifieds. He is looking for a permanent employee and two to three temporary staff to serve. And he still needs support in the kitchen. He has deliberately not turned to the employment agency because, in his experience, this is usually used to place employees who are not suitable or not motivated. For the time being, he has no choice but to concentrate on opening in the evenings; Mondays are now his day off.

Take Heimerzheim, for example: None of the 30 employees in the kitchen, service, housekeeping and reception have been lost by Hotel Weidenbrück in recent months. "We have regulated the backfilling short-time work in a socially acceptable way. The temporary staff have also remained," owner Elisabeth Weidenbrück noted with satisfaction. The permanent employees at Hotel und Gasthof Spargel Weber in Alfter are also still on partial short-time working. With the temporary workers, who had to stay at home in the past months, the occupation looks different. Some have looked for other jobs in recent months, owner Dieter Piel is currently looking for "good service staff" via word-of-mouth and the Internet. "Business in the outdoor restaurant is excellent. The hotel is also 60 percent booked during the week," he said.

Example Ahrweiler: On restaurant windows in the old town, there are often slips of paper with the inscription: "Temporary help wanted." Jobs are open for service staff, cleaners or kitchen help in all areas of the restaurant and hotel industry. It is also said that former employees have apparently found new jobs and do not want to return for the time being. René Laudien, who runs an Irish pub in Bad Neuenahr, is looking for three new employees. He doesn't just want to book it on the Corona account: He says it is always difficult to find good people. Some of them didn't even show up for the trial work.

Shortage of skilled workers in the catering trade for years now

Dirk Dötsch, who runs the Rheinaue park restaurant in Bonn and knows how to assess the situation in his industry from many years of experience, points out that the shortage of skilled workers has been a problem in the restaurant industry for years: "Corona has only intensified it." It's becoming more troublesome every year, he adds. Young people, he says, are increasingly skeptical of an industry where "the plug can be pulled at any time," as the recent past has shown. In addition, there are challenging working hours and sometimes stressful customer contacts. Trained cooks and service staff who want to find a new job don't have to look far. Dötsch receives "hardly any applications" for his four training positions. But he doesn't complain about a lack of staff, perhaps also because he offers a "reasonable overall package" to his employees, who are keen to have regular free time: "It's not always about finances."

But sometimes it is. Compared with craftsmen, service in the catering industry is sold below value, Dötsch thinks. But, "If wages go up, prices have to go up." That, in turn, would strain the relationship with customers. Conclusion the future is anything but secure: "It remains exciting, and it won't be easy.“

Dehoga formulates a cry for help for the catering industry

A veritable cry for help for the industry was formulated by the regional manager of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga). "We are facing a huge problem, but we did see it coming," says Christoph Becker, managing director of Dehoga North Rhine. In recent months, he says, there has been a failure to open up prospects for the many thousands of employees - especially the many temporary workers who cannot benefit from a government support package. In general, the hospitality industry faces the challenge of not being permanently perceived as a "crisis industry" - "with a view to trainees, that would be fatal".

Many businesses were virtually overwhelmed by the relaxations: "They came too suddenly." It takes about three weeks for an orderly resumption of operations, he said. "After all, it's not just the staff, it's also about ordering goods, about drinks, about equipment," Becker lists. For him and his association, there is a clear demand to politicians: "The bridging aid must be extended until the end of the year" - so that the rude awakening in the form of massive insolvencies does not come, as it were, with a delay. "In the current situation, businesses can hardly hope for alternatives such as bank loans."

Original text: Alexander Barth, Dietmar Kanthak and Jörg Manhold
Translation: Mareike Graepel