Summer staff shortages have hit the island hard over recent years and, again this year, businesses are concerned they won’t be able to attract and retain enough staff to cover the busy summer months. Covid-19 is exacerbating the situation, with many restaurants and vineyards previously reliant on overseas workers having to look elsewhere.
Casita Miro restaurant owner Cat Vosper says employers have to get imaginative and find new ways to attract summer staff domestically. Cat is working with the Ministry of Social Development, Waiheke Island Tourism Forum Inc and the Waiheke Winegrowers Association to attract workers. But although the idea of a summer on Waiheke with days off spent at the beach appeals to many, the reality of finding and paying for short-term accommodation or covering the expensive ferry commute isn’t plausible.
“In the past, a lot of people have relied on our beautiful migrant workers who often come well-trained to step into front-of-house, cheffing or accommodation-related work,” says Cat.
“It always worries us about workers having a place to live. There needs to be recognition about what’s needed, and changes to planning around building.”
Other than accommodation and transport costs, Cat says the biggest challenge for many in the hospitality industry is finding skilled chefs. The restaurant owner says the government’s Apprenticeship Boost programme is helpful for some employers. The initiative, announced in June, will support up to 36,000 apprentices per year (including new apprentices), by providing a subsidy to around 18,000 employers. • Sophie Boladeras
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