Scott Brannigan alongside his chef.

Workers flee the hospitality industry for jobs with better hours, causing serious shortages

Chef Scott Brannigan is a veteran of Perth’s restaurant scene, but even he’s never seen anything like the current staff shortage.

As the owner of several restaurants, Mr. Brannigan is used to wearing a lot of hats in his business, but lately he has to be a “jack of all trades”.

“For example, in one of the restaurants right now I probably have half the chef group out [due to COVID],” he said.

“So I’ll probably be there on the weekend, and in another location we’ll have all the managers outside, so I’ll be working on the floor for the next few days.”

Employees who are being duped

It’s a similar story in a location on the other side of town, and it’s exhausted the staff.

“You never get a chance to stop, think, breathe,” says restaurant chef Asher Kapert.

“You end up getting sick from just stress.”

Restaurant supervisor Asher Kapert says there is no time to stop and breathe and employees are getting sick from the stress.ABC News: Jade Barker

The manager of the adjacent bottle shop said staff shortages were having a knock-on effect.

“It was stressful, it was hard and I’ve had COVID myself and had to come back to find staff shortages,” explained David Brown.

Two employees in a bottle shop
David Brown says staff shortages are putting a lot of pressure on workers.ABC News: Jade Barker

“I also do a lot of behind-the-scenes work in the venue in general and it got me off that, so then I’m behind on the work that I have to do at a later date.”

COVID inspires rethinking lifestyle

Venue owner Kane Mansfield said staffing was a challenge even before COVID, but several factors made things even bigger now.

“Because every industry needs staff right now, we have a lot of bar staff who have regular day jobs,” he said.

“They don’t want to do the hospitality hours anymore, so we’re losing people to other industries.”

Location owner leans on bar
Venue owner Kane Mansfield says it has become even more difficult to find experienced staff since COVID.ABC News: Jade Barker

Mr Brannigan also noted a shift in the hospitality industry since the start of the pandemic.

“There are a lot of people who have ‘considered’ their lives while having that free time and for some people that is not hospitality,” he said.

Record low unemployment doesn’t help

Market leaders say the shortages are also due to things like a decline in backpacker numbers and the record low unemployment rate.

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