Wigan hospitality sector bosses speak out about staff shortages

Wigan hospitality sector bosses have spoken about staff shortages and recruitment schedules which are affecting the industry.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 12:19 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd August 2021, 12:22 pm

Britain’s pubs and restaurants are down almost 200,000 workers as the pandemic has affected all sectors, according to trade body UKHospitality.

Staff shortages are due to a number of factors including furloughed staff finding work elsewhere, European workers not returning, people having health fears of working in the industry and ongoing closure of many venues.

And owners of Wigan bars, pubs and nightclubs say they have experienced the majority of these issues or know people working in the industry who have, although they have said the situation is not as dire in the borough as in other parts of the country.

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Tony Callaghan

As JPIMedia launches a major national campaign to help these independent local businesses find the staff they desperately need, borough bosses in the hospitality industry have spoken about the benefits and positive aspects of a job in the trade.

Wigan venues said they were experiencing particular difficulties recruiting chefs and finding a lot of people applying for jobs are not actually qualified or able to take them on.

Tony Callaghan, who runs the company Inn The Bar which has a string of pubs and bars all across Wigan, said: “I think there are a lot of sectors suffering, it’s not just hospitality.

“A lot of staff just disappeared when we went into lockdown. They have taken other jobs elsewhere and it is very difficult to get them back.

“Fortunately we have a lot of staff who have been here a long time and we’ve kept them on through lockdown, so it’s not affected us as much as it has a lot of businesses. We do also have lots of people wanting to work in our venues and we’ve had some great responses when we’ve been recruiting.

“It’s tough out there. We are having to do different things to get people working. People are returning to pubs but not in the numbers we thought they would. I’ve been in hospitality virtually all of my working life and I think it’s a fantastic business to be in.

“You can get a lot of rewards and if you’re young it can be a great social life getting to mix with people. When I started out I thought I might have a couple of bars but I would never have expected to grow as much as I have.

“One of my venue managers started out as a teenage barmaid and glass collector and now she has her own pub. That’s something she would never have dreamed of when she started.”

Michael Pagett, who owns three bars in Wigan town centre including Reef Bar and Terrace, said: “It is very difficult, especially to find chefs. There just seems to be a shortage across the whole country.

“Wages are going up and up so chefs are just able to leave a job after a week for more money.

“I think it’s a combination of Brexit meaning a lot of them have gone back to their home countries and them going on to do other things.

“If we get 50 applicants for a role then we will probably only have 10 who are suitable for interview. A lot will just be too young to work in the industry.

“There’s a reluctance at the moment to leave a job because nobody knows in the future if we will have lockdown again. They don’t want to leave a secure job with guaranteed furlough.

“We’re having to recruit massively at the moment to get up to staffing levels after being shut and then open with restrictions. We did keep everybody on furlough but in dribs and drabs they found new jobs because they were bored of sitting at home doing nothing.

“It’s a fun industry to work in. It’s a challenge but you are constantly meeting new people and it’s a good place to build friendships and relationships.”

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