ORLANDO, Fla. – Over the past couple of weeks, restaurants across Central Florida have reported that they’re struggling to hire new staff, despite having many open positions.
Some have even had to close their doors early on certain days because of the shortage in labor.
“It’s been challenging. We didn’t think a year ago that this would be the problem that we would have coming on the other side of the pandemic,” said Keri Burns, the Central Florida Regional Director for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “We have restaurants that are changing their hours of operations, they’re changing days of the week that they’re open simply to try to accommodate the business.”
Burns told News 6 the good news is the restaurant industry is booming again and employers are even offering better pay and benefits to lure in potential workers.
“We’ve never had to really fight for jobs before. You know, it’s never been a problem to get people to work at restaurants,” she said. “The unemployment issue makes that a little bit of a challenge as well and that’s why our employers are having to take a really good look at the compensation packages.”
Currently, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is trying to get results for restaurant owners by putting together a workforce event across the state with hopes of closing the gap.
“What we’re doing is we’re uniting our community resources, such as CareerSource, Catholic Charities, Employ U and we’re pulling in employers and we’re letting those two groups of people speak to each other about potential employees that might be available to come to work,” Burns said.
According to FRLA, the positions available aren’t just entry-level positions or hourly wage jobs.
“We have a lot of supervisory positions open, we have management-level positions open. Everything is open and available. We just want people to come back to work,” she said. “Obviously, the last year some people are hesitant, that perhaps this is something that could happen again, that they could lose their jobs if they get back into hospitality or restaurants, but this is the perfect opportunity for people who want to start a new career or they’re ready to jump from one to another.”