Staff shortages: Hospitality sector looks to students to fill ranks this summer

Staff shortages: Hospitality sector looks to students to fill ranks this summer
Credit: Belga

With the summer season fast approaching, bringing with it the prospect of packed cafes and restaurants, establishments in the hospitality sector are turning to students to make up for large-scale shortages, reported Sud Presse.

Temporary employment agencies expect a record-breaking summer for its services, as restaurants and bars have never had so many vacancies.

"Tourist regions and city centres, in particular, attract people, so demand will be strong," said Luc Marchal, president of the Horeca federation for the hospitality sector. "There is a risk we may struggle to satisfy everyone."

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The hotel and catering industry have always recruited students, but the need will be greater this year due to a shortage of personnel after the coronavirus pandemic. Marchal adds that there are also concerns about difficulties in training new employees.

"When a student has been trained and comes back three or four years in a row, that's fine. But if it's a new student, it's not easy. Being a bartender or waiting on tables sounds simple but it requires knowledge."

Exponential demand

Maxime Deremince of temporary employment agency Daoust confirms this.  "Two years of Covid have led many people that previously worked in the hotel and catering industries to find new professions." This goes some way in explaining the acute shortage seen currently.

Alongside hotels and catering establishments, the retail sector will also be a major recruiter of students. Colruyt expects to employ several thousand students this summer.

In 2021, the amount of student workers returned to normal levels, but the number of hours worked also dropped, according to Randstad.

The decrease in hours worked is partly explained by the students who choose their job and the number of hours they work depending on the object or trip they want to buy.

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