Skilled workers needed

STAFF SHORTAGE: Thyme at the Lakes executive chef Nick Katris continues to search for staff, something he says has been made difficult since the pandemic.

DESPITE the reported drop in unemployment nationally, many hospitality businesses in Mount Gambier are reportedly finding it difficult to secure skilled staff.

Thyme at the Lakes executive chef Nick Katris said the business has been advertising for a new front of house staff member for over a week with no interest so far.

Mr Katris said typically the business would put the call out for casual staff every other month to maintain a rotating roster, yet recently have found it difficult to secure more than one application.

“We are always needing staff and there are people who want to come in and work regular hours but we also need staff who are happy to cover weddings and out-of-hours events,” Mr Katris said.

“We can try and keep advertising but we need around 10 to 20 casual staff at a time to have alternating rosters and allow staff to have that time off.”

The chef said he had found the recruitment process to be difficult recently with only one resume handed in within recent times.

“Before Covid we were getting around 15 applications every time we advertised but since the pandemic we have found it very difficult to secure staff,” Mr Katris said.

“We have tried different formats of advertisement including social media and word of mouth but it has still been difficult.”

He said it was difficult to understand why resumes were not being handed in and that it could be due to people wanting to keep their weekends to themselves.

“It could also be a lack of skills or just general confidence because the applicants would have to talk to people and communicate with them while bringing dishes out as well as reading people,” Mr Katris said.

“This is also the first time we have advertised for a full time position so it will be interesting to see what we get from that.”

Mr Katris said further upskilling availability within Mount Gambier could help hospitality businesses secure long-term staff with those coming into the job with the skills already on hand helping the businesses in the long run.

“I do think there needs to be better upskilling available and better education around hospitality whether it is through marketing to encourage people to gain better skills for hospitality,” he said.

“Skills in hospitality are good because it is a skill that people can take around with them anywhere.

“We always upskill our staff but it would also be beneficial to have people come on the job with the skills already there.”

TafeSA chief executive David Coltman said there were currently a range of qualifications for hospitality, kitchen operations and commercial cookery at the Mount Gambier campus with short courses available throughout the year for areas including responsible serving of alcohol, barista training, bartending and basic gaming training.

“The demand for TafeSA training continues to be strong and we are aware there are no shortage of employment opportunities for our hospitality graduates,” Mr Coltman said.

“Our partnerships with local industry, including hospitality providers, are key to the successful delivery and development of our courses and we are currently working with a large hotel group to upskill over 40 existing workers.

“We are looking for new ways that we can adapt to develop more skilled workers for the hospitality industry this includes working with school leavers, new migrants to the areas, those wanting to change careers and those re-entering the workforce.”

According to data collected by the National Skill Commission, the regional average of unemployment almost halved in December 2021 when compared to the previous year.

Mount Gambier remains at 4.3 per cent compared to 7.1 per cent from the previous year while Grant District Council settles at 2.8 per cent compared to five per cent in 2020.