Image Credit: Adam Bruderer
Businesses in York city centre are urging students to apply for jobs due to a severe shortage of workers, particularly in the hospitality sector. A York Press survey found that there were at least 14 shops and cafés currently in need of staff in York.
Many cafés, restaurants and bars in the city have reduced capacity and opening hours as a result of understaffing. Last month, the long-established café Bettys was forced to cut its closing time from 9.00 pm to 5.00 pm due to staff shortages. This change has remained in place since then.
This problem is nationwide as staff shortages across the UK reached a record high in August, with economists and policymakers speculating that workers are concerned about catching COVID-19 and are reevaluating their career choices in the wake of the pandemic. The so-called ‘pingdemic’, the spike in workers self-isolating as a result of downloading the NHS COVID-19 app, is also a major factor in temporary staff shortages.
However, with double-vaccinated workers no longer having to self-isolate unless they test positive, the pingdemic is now less significant in explaining staff shortages. Several establishments in York have reported that certain jobs are receiving far fewer job applicants than ever before.
According to YorkMix, Lee Probert- the Principal of York College- told a recent council meeting that an advertisement for personal tutors received 300 applications yet an advertisement for a head chef role attracted just three applicants.
Probert said that “chefs may be seeking more secure jobs following national lockdowns that have closed hospitality and that kitchen staff on furlough getting 80 per cent of their wages could increase their earnings by taking a different job that is not on furlough.”
York City Council is considering new initiatives to encourage more workers to return to the hospitality industry, such as discounted public transport. Training will also be offered as there is a national concern that younger workers have missed out on necessary training during the pandemic and will be less likely to apply for jobs that require it.
The current availability of jobs in York is encouraging news for students who have lost jobs during the pandemic. Students were hit particularly hard during the pandemic as most only work part-time.
The London School of Economics recently reported that 10% of people aged 16–25 lost their job as a result of COVID-19, and 60% saw their earnings fall. These statistics highlight that students were twice as likely to be unemployed during the pandemic than older workers. The Government now fears that the next generation of workers will lack the skills needed to secure a job in an already competitive job market.
Working in the hospitality sector could provide younger people with good experience and references. The manager of Vikings Pizza, on Walmgate, said: “There has been a noticeable drop in our number of workers."
“We especially need more drivers, so I’d encourage any student with a car to apply now. There are lots of jobs up for grabs in York at the moment, so have the confidence to go for one."