The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) is hoping mums and dads and mature aged workers will come out of retirement this holiday season and help pubs survive extreme staff shortages.

According to AHA National CEO Stephen Ferguson the hotels sector has more than 100,000 vacant positions nationally. He said hotels across the country are being forced to close on certain days or reduce hours during their busiest time of the year, because of a lack of staff.

Our industry is struggling to recover from the worst 18 months in our history and the recovery is being hampered by a dire skills shortage right across the nation but especially along the east coast,” Ferguson said.

“The return of international students and working holiday makers will be slow, but we have an army of skilled mature age workers here that we need to tap into.

“There is a pool of retired people out there and many older workers who lost jobs during the pandemic and these people have the ‘soft skills’ needed to work in a pub. They are reliable, hard-working and mature – and we need their help.”

Cobargo Hotel owner Dave Allen said he specifically targeted older people in his South Coast community, offering free training for anyone willing to give the job a go, and it saved him.

“Since the bushfires devastated this community we have seen an increase in tourism, people have been coming here to support us but it has been a blessing and a curse because we just don’t have any workers,” said Allen.

“We lost 3,000 homes in the fires so there is no accommodation here, many of our young people leave to work in the city and without backpackers we had no one. I was working seven days a week and thinking about closing the pub every Monday.

“But we do have a big retired community down here so I put up a sign in the pub asking for help and we now have four new women on staff, who do a couple of days a week each.

“They did RSA, RCG and a barista course online for free, they are keen and they are working out great. They are a God-send.

“I think there needs to be a national program promoting our industry as one not just for kids but for everyone. This group is our way out of this crisis in the short-term.”

Ferguson said the Federal Government had made some changes to the pension so retirees could work and not lose benefits, and said the AHA was in discussions on more changes to help encourage more mature aged workers into the industry.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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