Staff shortages in gastronomy: from starred restaurants to supermarkets

Status: 11/30/2022 10:35 a.m

With the corona pandemic, many employees in cafés, restaurants or at airports have looked for new jobs. Today the staff is missing there. Where did the job changers end up?

For many restaurateurs, retailers or employers at the airport, the search for workers has been dragging on for several months. It is mainly about urgently needed service personnel, who seem to have become in short supply since Corona and are now being sought everywhere just before the Christmas business.

Overqualified for the position

We are looking for staff like sommelier Gilles Duflot. In an Edeka in southern Hesse, he clears wine shelves and advises supermarket customers. As a former manager of a starred restaurant, he is actually overqualified for this position. However, the short-time work during the pandemic had given him time to think about his job in gastronomy.

“I then tried my hand at it. I worked at the post office, as a courier and in retail. Here I realize that I can achieve this work-life balance,” he says. Duflot is one of many restaurateurs who have traded: incalculable stress for regulated working hours.

“At some point you pull the ripcord”

“Some went into retail, many looked for alternatives,” says Guido Noll, head of the Food, Enjoyment and Restaurants Union (NGG) in Darmstadt and Mainz. He knows this because many of them reported their job change to the union in order to be re-registered in the system.

Gastronomy is currently in a dilemma, says Noll. It’s getting harder and harder to plan your private life. “At some point you pull the ripcord. And it’s not only related to the earnings, but also to the working conditions.”

A look at the numbers confirms the assumption. The employer-related Institute of German Economics in Cologne has calculated: Around one in four employees in the tourism, hotel or catering industry changed jobs in the pandemic year 2020 – especially in sales jobs or in logistics.

There is a lack of ground staff

Not only the gastronomy has recorded a high turnover since the pandemic. Service personnel are also sought after at airports in particular. Here, however, there seems to be movement in the labor market again after many jobs had been cut, such as at the airport operator Fraport in Frankfurt. Around 4,000 jobs were cut there as a cost-cutting measure.

According to Fraport, many left voluntarily. Now the search is on for ground staff to work on the runway in all weathers. The unions criticize that the workers are not coming back because the working conditions are too hard. Fraport counters that there can be no talk of bad conditions, the hourly wages are now between 14 and almost 18 euros.

The new labor market

The working conditions are only one of many triggers for the current problem, says the sociologist Crista Larsen from the University of Frankfurt. The real problem has existed for much longer: demographic change. To put it simply: there are fewer and fewer workers in Germany. “And that’s just the beginning of the development. Above all, shortages of skilled workers will increase significantly for a good ten years,” says Larsen.

Anyone who is looking for workers today therefore has to offer more than in the past. “Young people in particular need flexibility and want to identify with their work.” At least good news for employees. Because for many, that should ultimately mean: better jobs and better working conditions.

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