There has been quite a bit of talk about a shortage of casual workers in hospitality (in particular, along with cleaners and security) as Sydney retail reopens.
So what does this mean for Sydney’s event venues?
ICC Sydney is the city’s largest venue and CEO Geoff Donaghy told ASE,
“Emerging from the Delta lockdown in Sydney this week, our team is ready to recommence in person events in line with NSW Government’s Roadmap to Reopening key milestones and health regulations. All ICC Sydney team members who will deliver events or work on site at the venue from 11 October are fully vaccinated and have received refresher training in the updated safety protocols prior to returning to work in the venue.
Considering our schedule of events, and the internal communications and incentives campaigns underway over recent months, we currently have adequate team members (both permanent and casual) who are fully vaccinated and available to be able to comfortably deliver event requirements until the end of the year. Our exceptional culture has seen our team members rush to share their vaccination certificates in an effort to protect one another and get back to doing what they love.”
Looking forward to 2022 the ICCS is looking at expanding the workforce:
“From the early months of 2022, we will be looking to grow our team once more to meet the needs of our increasing calendar of events. Given the challenges of the tight labour market, we are investigating additional sources for our casual talent pool but are confident that we will get where we need to be in time.
ICC Sydney has long aimed to be an employer of choice and we continue to strive to provide careers not just jobs within this exciting and dynamic industry”, said Donaghy
Another large employer of casual staff is Sydney Showground where Darryl Jeffrey is General Manager,
“The lack of backpackers and overseas students no doubt has an effect on the ability to attract casual staff, both in F&B but also cleaning. We have approached our casual pool regarding return to work and have had a strong response, which is good to see.
As a venue though we are very cognisant of the strain that may be on the casual labour force going forward. We are currently in market for an experienced staffing manager whose primary role will be recruitment and training of new staff members in a bid to significantly increase our casual labour pool. We see this as a key mitigation strategy to a significant risk that is going to be prevalent in the short to medium term.”
James Farr, Sydney Showground Director of F&B added,
“Skilled and experienced casual staff will be our main hurdle when reopening. So a big focus for us will be onsite training leading into and during events to hopefully retain these staff for the long term.
Back of house labour and chefs in particular is where we are seeing the biggest decline in interest, and talking with colleagues in the industry, this is across all of hospitability.
The feedback we have received on this is either, staff have moved into other industries during the lockdown period due to the lack of work or, as you’ve stated, backpackers and/or oversees hospitality students have restricted access into the country.”
Navarra Venues operate five venues in Sydney (with two more in the pipeline); Senior Managing Partner Giovannino Navarra is concerned about the staffing issue,
“Staffing is also definitely a huge issue so the quicker we open up and get back into the swing of things as we learn to live with the virus the better for all,” he said
“What we really need is for the Government and The Fair Work Commission to support the industry by lifting heavy penalty rates and costs in the hospitality sector. Make it fair for people who want a second job to actually want to work in this sector. This will help our industry to be able to flourish again. NSW Australia is a beautiful country and so the borders need to open to allow tourism to boost the economy. It’s time. We have waited long enough and with the support of Premier Perrottet and his team he can now carefully gauge and move things along.”
Anna Cesarano, CEO of Doltone House Venue Collection with six Sydney venues, is upbeat,
“We are thrilled that the 11th of October is finally upon us. Hospitality is certainly one of the most talked about industry sectors, so let’s reignite the passion and remind talented individuals about the fulfillment of the hospitality industry.
Naturally, whilst the talent pool has been somewhat impacted by Covid-19, we are confident that the climate will stabilise in coming weeks. As explained by the NSW Premier Perrotet over the weekend, clients/customers need to be kind and patient with the hospitality sector and I couldn’t agree more.
Everyone is wanting to have that delayed celebration, so let the parties begin! Our teams have been attending to client requests throughout the entire lockdown, but now with greater certainty all round, book a date in our calendar to avoid disappointment!”
It is not just venues, exhibition organisers utilise a lot of casual staff including Expertise Events. CEO Gary Fitz-Roy told us,
“I am concerned about the unseen labour we need, including carpet layers, builders, cleaners and hospitality. I think some things may shift once the Government payment doesn’t exist but it’s a hard task getting labour when many are earning more staying at home”.