The hotel industry is looking for waiters in Catalonia while 13,000 are registered as unemployed

Waiter wanted“. If one walks these days through the crowded Barcelona terraces or through any of the classic coastal tourism in Catalonia where foreign tourists return en masse, it will not be unusual to find one of these posters. The clamor of the sector hotelier due to the lack of labor at the gates of the summer campaign has been loud in recent weeks. And while businessmen proclaim the shortage of professionals in the union and even the big chains begin to comb the Latin American or Moroccan markets in search of them, 13,357 unemployed are registered in the Employment Service of Catalonia (SOC) as waiters in search of employment.

The average salary in the hospitality industry is 1,150.7 euros grossaccording to the INE

Unemployed waiters and employers without workers. The economic nonsense is served in the reactivation of the hostelry once the covid is forgotten. Although part of the professionals who up to now supported the sector have migrated to other unions in search of better paid jobs and with more possibilities of reconciling work and family life, the ‘reserve army‘ in the restoration continues to far exceed the available seats. And in all of this, the public employment offices are useless in the eyes of the hoteliers to serve them as professionals.

Between January and May of this year, restaurants, hotels and other companies in the sector in Catalonia have registered a total of 230 job offers in the SOC to look for waiters. “The SOC is not used by anyone, here what works is word of mouth and it is costing a lot. There is a lack of waiters, there is a lack of kitchen assistants, there is a lack of receptionists& mldr; there is a lack of hands in the hotel industry. Both on the coast and inland,” affirms the Vice President of Pimec Turisme and Manager of the FIHRT, Daniel Brase. Meanwhile, at the next window, 13,357 unemployed are registered as waiters looking for work. A figure that is very similar to those registered in the pre-pandemic Mays.

Although the SOC is not a reference for companies when looking for candidates, in massive employment portals such as infojobs the number of waiters willing to work multiplies the available places several times. According to data provided by the portal, In Spain, the number of vacancies for waiters published in the month of May amounted to 9,465 seats. Of these, 2,818 are located in Catalonia. And on the other side of the coin there is 360,000 registered for waiters from all over Spain, placing the ratio of registrations per offer at 37 candidates for each offer.

Why does the sector complain about the lack of waiters if there are so many unemployed who say they have experience in the trade? “The hospitality sector has always been talked about as an abusive sector and that has happened. Many have not done what they had to do and others have been doing things well for many years. But the bad fame of some we all pay for it & rdquor ;, affirms Brasé. That the average salary in the sector is 1,150.7 euros gross, according to the latest survey of labor costs by the INE, does not contribute to attracting talent. Not everyone in the sector dares to speak about it, as is the case of the Gremi de Restauració de Barcelona, ​​which, when asked by this medium, has declined to make a statement.

Social Security opens the door to search outside

While in Catalonia and the rest of Spain there are too many waiters and not enough places to fill, part of the sector turns its gaze abroad to bring in labor from there. For this campaign it will no longer be possible, but the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration is finalizing a reform of the immigration regulations to allow “the incorporation of profiles highly demanded by multiple economic sectors that currently find it difficult to cover vacancies”, according to the text already presented for public consultation.

The official government justification for changing the law is to improve the regularization of migrants and minimize (or eliminate) the time they spend without a work permit. And do it in those employment niches where companies do not find native professionals. “The priority, how could it be otherwise, is the generation of employment for Spaniards, for our young people. And that is perfectly compatible with the fact that certain bottlenecks, certain areas of the labor market, can be tackled in another way” , said this week the minister Jose Luis Escriva at an informative breakfast.

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One of the modifications that the standard intends to introduce is the elaboration of a “catalog of professions of difficult coverage” for each province or territorial demarcation. This would be based on the data sent from the SEPE and must be approved by employers and unions. And when a profession without staff is identified, it will open the possibility for companies to bring people from outside to work. In the absence of the final wording, which must still be negotiated at the social dialogue tables, the abundance of unemployed waiters and the lack of offers registered by the companies does not fit with the definition that Social Security intends for this union.

“Do we represent the GDP that we represent and we don’t have staff? We have to make ourselves look at it. We have to improve in salaries and in family reconciliation, working two shifts and on weekends does not help. Should we have people waiting until one in the morning for a table to be cleared because they are having a ‘gin and tonic’? Well, maybe after a certain time if someone wants to stay drinking that ‘gin and tonic’ they will have to pay double,” reflects the vice president of Pimec Turisme.

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