Staff shortage | Germany

Wanted: New employees!

Employees desperately sought.
dpa picture alliance
Employees desperately sought.

Throughout the German service industry - and in the hospitality industry in particular - employers are desperately seeking employees. Many have left for other jobs and are slow to return. Appreciation is one of the keys to attracting capable employees again. An overview of the causes and possible solutions.

It seldom happened as drastically as with the Leipzig scene bar Kowalski: The café had to close for good a few days ago because it couldn't get any more people for the service. But even if it does not come everywhere to the closing: Thousands service providers between Flensburg and Garmisch-Partenkirchen plagues the same personnel problem.

Fewer opening hours, more days off and thinned out menus are the result. Staff lost in the pandemic are slow to return to the industry, where in some areas they often have to work long hours but are almost traditionally not paid lavishly.

Complex reasons for the job migration

Susanne Droux from the Bavarian regional association of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga) knows the phenomenon. In Bavaria, twelve percent of permanent employees in the catering industry left during the pandemic, she says. Among mini-jobbers, the percentage of those who left the industry was even over 50 percent, she said. "People went where they were needed - for example, to the health departments or Corona testing centers."

In addition, there would be further distortions: Students, for example, would hardly be available because they often no longer lived at their places of study due to a lack of attendance at the universities, but instead returned to live with their parents.

Only 5,400 applicants for 17,000 trainee positions

The Federal Employment Agency expresses the problem in figures. According to the report, the number of restaurant jobs that need to be filled has virtually doubled since April. In August, restaurateurs nationwide reported 20,686 job openings, he said, while hoteliers reported another 7,678 openings. In April, the number had been 10,977 in gastronomy and 4,138 in hotels.

The situation on the training market is particularly drastic: just under 17,000 in-company training positions in the hotel and catering industry are offset by 5409 applicants (previous year: 7276).

Home-made shortage of skilled workers?

The trade union Nahrung, Genuss, Gaststätten (NGG) also attributes the staff shortage to a poor image of the industry among employees. "Currently, only about a third of the companies are bound by collective agreements and then usually only pay the statutory minimum wage," says a spokesman.

"Many mini-jobbers were simply put out on the street - for others, the short-time allowance was not enough at the back and front. No wonder that many are now reorienting themselves", complains Susanne Ferschl, member of the Bundestag for the Left Party. "Instead of continuing to rely on mini-jobs across the board, the industry must once again offer permanent employment in good jobs as well as pay according to collective agreements," she demands. "By relying on a 'business as usual' approach, the shortage of skilled workers is homemade."

Hospitality industry "never-ending growth industry"

The industry itself doesn't see it much differently - but from a different angle. "If you treat your people well, you can keep them," says Susanne Droux from Dehoga in Bavaria. Numerous landlords had kept their staff during the crisis with bonuses and special payments - and had been successful. In the meantime, working conditions have also been improved - two days off a week, where previously there were none at all, are no longer uncommon, says Droux. This ability to plan time off has been very well received by the workforce. Numerous employees who had temporarily turned their backs on the company are coming back. Not least because of the prospect of tips.

This does not even make a big dent in sales, she said. "We're working in an infinite growth industry," she says. The urge to go out, to meet other people in casual settings, is at an all-time high, she says. On the days they are open, she says, the bars are all the more crowded. In the bars in Berlin, for example, there is already talk of a revival of the wild 20s.

Bavaria DEHOGA