They’ve done it tougher than other hospitality sectors, but pubs can be optimistic heading into 2022, according to rostering software company Deputy which has launched a new report, Staying Open: Future Proofing Aussie Hospitality.

The company has sliced and diced data from its own rostering systems and other sources to present fresh insights into Australia’s hospitality labour market now and into the future.

“The hospitality industry is healing from the destruction of COVID-19. This data can help us understand the labour market better and identify the best path forward to economic recovery,” Deputy co-founder and CEO Ashik Ahmend said.

Australian Hotelier has drilled down on some of the key insights for the pub sector.

  1. Remote working will continue to benefit suburban venues

In 2020, the National Skills Commission forecasted that 140,000 new jobs would be created by hospitality over the next five years. However, remote working now suggests that these jobs will likely be concentrated in local neighbourhood hospitality.

Deputy is predicting a “revitalisation” of neighbourhood pubs, as workers in inner city Sydney and Melbourne permanently exit the space.

  1. Pubs and bars are operating at 50 per cent employment capacity

Lockdowns and capacity limits mean that Australian pubs are currently running at half their normal employment capacity, and Deputy reports that pubs and bars have suffered deeper reductions to employment capacity than the hospitality sector as a whole.

Restaurants proved more resilient to the effects of lockdown due to their ability to pivot to take-away and delivery. Pubs and bars, in contrast, were limited in their ability to offer takeaway, and have traditionally been more dependent on events for revenue than their food-driven counterparts. Increased competition from alcohol delivery services also ate into employment and revenue.

  1. States that remained largely open are thriving

Not surprisingly, states that did not endure long lockdowns are doing better than those that did. For instance, shift work employment in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory has surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

Deputy credits this to a boom in domestic tourism and a rise in disposal income among consumers.

  1. Female workers are suffering most

Female shift workers are disproportionately affected by restrictions, according to Deputy. Women, who make up 44 per cent of the workforce in bars and pubs, saw a greater month-on-month decline in working hours of 0.1 per cent during lockdowns when compared to men.

Gen Z workers have also suffered, experiencing a decline of an additional 4.3 percent when compared to their nearest generational counterpart.

  1. There are reasons to be cheerful

Aside from Deputy’s prediction of a boom for local pubs and bars, the software maker suggests that pubs are bars are likely to benefit from government interventions to support domestic tourism.

Inner city bars and pubs will in particular benefit from government-supported dining vouchers and rebate schemes designed to entice Australians back into venues following lockdowns.

Hospitality workers can also look forward to potential labour market reforms, with Deputy pointing to historic precedents, such as the introduction of paid sick leave following the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak. Australian childcare reforms, for example, are back on the political agenda.

The Staying Open: Future Proofing Aussie Hospitality report is based on Deputy customer data collected between January 2020 and October 2021.

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