Launceston restaurant Cataract on Paterson recently welcomed a new bout of trainees, but managing director Karen Burbury said she could bring on as many as another nine staff if she could find suitable applicants.
Ms Burbury isn't alone in her struggle to find hospitality staff, as the industry continues to battle against a nationwide shortage of experienced hospitality workers.
The latest figures from the federal government's vacancy report show a 45 per cent increase month on month in demand for hospitality staff.
While much of that trend can be attributed to restrictions easing on the mainland, Tasmanian restaurateurs are also seeing major shortages in the weeks before an expected boom in business when state borders open.
"Honestly, getting hold of more experienced staff has been more difficult," she said.
With that in mind, Ms Burbury believes training programs like hers are an effective way for her to alleviate the yo-yoing staffing demand the industry is known for.
By training up our own staff I'm investing in their future and my future. If I don't do this now - who are my next leaders?Karen Burbury
"A lot of restaurants might use trainees for twelve months but we want to retain ours because that's our succession plan."
About 10 of Ms Burbury's 100+ staff are now trainees completing their Certificate II or III in hospitality, a fact she is eager to pass on to her patrons.
"We're putting something on the front of our menus just to explain that there is a critical hospitality staff shortage and that every member of the team is trying their best," Ms Burbury added.
Among the restaurants successful traineeships was Nellie Liefhebger, who has worked at Cataract on Paterson for more than two years. She was eager to encourage anyone considering a traineeship to take the leap.
"When I came in I loved hospitality, I loved people but I knew absolutely nothing. I think if you love those things its a no brainer and you can learn on the job," Ms Liefhebger said
Since joining the team at Cataract, Ms Liefhebger has finished her Cert II and is now in the process of completing her Cert III. For Ms Burbury, Ms Liefhebger's journey is an example of why traineeships can work.
"We're always training up someone to be our next bar manager or our next floor supervisor," she said.
Facing similar issues is Evandale's Clarendon Arms. Owner Lydia Nettlefold said securing staff for front-of-house and kitchen work has been a continual problem - though not from a lack of applicants.
"We have plenty of applications for the jobs we advertise, however we struggle to get candidates to turn up to interviews and unfortunately the majority of our applications are from candidates with no hospitality experience," she said.
Ms Nettlefold went on to say that the restaurant has recently employed several overseas visa holders, who she characterised as committed, loyal and hardworking.
"Without them we would struggle to open our doors," she added.
Speaking to the staff shortages, chief executive of the Tasmanian Hospitality Association Steve Old said he was aware that some venues were finding it difficult to accrue adequate staffing numbers.
"The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic took a massive toll on businesses, many of which had to downsize to remain viable and operational. Now as we prepare to welcome back tourists, the need to hire staff will be paramount," he said.
To aid in that effort, the THA, the state government and the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania are collaborating on a "summer workforce campaign" to meet immediate skill gaps, provide short course industry training and improve employee retention.
While the THA initiatives are aimed at improving staffing levels in the near term, Ms Burbury it still apprehensive for an expectedly busy tourist season.
"We don't have enough staff, that's just the truth, and that's with us interviewing two days a week for the last five weeks," she said.
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