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Micheline Corr of The Firm outlines challenge facing hospitality sector

Staff shortages were in part caused by people leaving the industry during the lockdowns

Micheline Corr is director of specialist hospitality recruitment company The Firm. Business has been good since the industry started to reopen at the beginning of the summer, but it has not been without its challenges.

“We are still working from home, and we are looking forward to going back to a place where we can meet candidates face to face,” she says. “We are still using digital mediums to communicate with them, and it has gone very well. First round interviews are all virtual and that will probably remain the case. Now that restaurants, hotels and other properties are open again candidates can go in and see the facilities for themselves and then do a face to face interview. The recruitment process is almost back to normal now. One positive change is that it has speeded up somewhat.”

Not everything has gone according to plan though. “Although HR departments had carefully prepared and curated plans for people going back to work, it didn’t happen. They found themselves very short-staffed. I was getting calls from very distressed owners and managers looking for staff. In some cases the shortage meant they couldn’t open and in others it meant hotels had to open with some rooms closed or restaurants had limited menus and restricted numbers. Some restaurants had to reduce opening hours.”

The staff shortages were in part caused by people leaving the industry during the lockdowns.


“I am talking to chefs who have moved into the retail and healthcare sectors, I spoke to a restaurant manager last week who is now working in car sales. Many of them are enjoying the change and the daytime working hours, even if the pay is lower. Lots of them have settled into their new roles and have adjusted their spending to suit the change in income. They have adapted and are not coming back. We have seen a slight uptick in applications in recent weeks, possibly because of the end of PUP payments.”

The reopening of the events sector will create further demand.

“We can see companies in the sector already rehiring. We are working with theatres and events venues and other companies as they plan for full reopening. We are always a bit ahead. We have been very busy and it looks like we will be even busier in the coming months. We will continue working on our brand and developing new ways to communicate and interact with our clients and candidates.”

Barry McCall

Barry McCall is a contributor to The Irish Times