Many sectors in the Bay of Plenty are struggling to find skilled employees and the hospitality industry is no exception. Experts say some Kiwis view the jobs as a stop-gap instead of a viable career option. Carmen Hall talks to those involved and takes a look at the number of jobs coming on stream in the future.
The Bay of Plenty hospitality industry is booming as sales revenues jump $38 million in one year - but this growth is coming at a cost as local businesses struggle to find skilled staff.
It is a problem that is likely to grow worse. A new report estimates another 2800 hospitality employees will be needed in the Bay of Plenty in the next four years.
In the report from the Restaurant Association, data showed that across the Bay, sales increased from $599m to $637.7m in the year ended March 2019.
Employee numbers had also lifted, rising from 7200 to 7500 in the same period.
But more workers are needed, and soon. The Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment estimates that by 2023, the Bay of Plenty will need 2800 more hospitality staff.
The industry's growth is being driven by rising numbers of international visitors and more residents choosing to eat out, Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said.
The shortages had a big effect on businesses, she said, and put pressure on both the owners and staff.
''At the most extreme end, it means a business needs to reduce their trading hours and we've had some members say if the skill shortages get worse they may need to close.''
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Josh Fitzgerald, co-owner of Barrio Brothers and Rye Bar and Grill, said the businesses were always on the lookout for experienced staffers.
But they were increasingly hard to come by, he said, and the problem was not just isolated to New Zealand - it was worldwide.
A lot of Kiwis did not think there were career pathways in hospitality, but the 32-year-old said people with passion could succeed and work their way up the ladder.
He had been involved in the industry for 14 years and said no two days were alike.
''One day I could be fixing a door hinge or doing spreadsheets, making cocktails or washing dishes.''
About 55 staff worked across the businesses with numbers increasing over summer and, at the moment, summer staff was needed at both sites.
Area and entertainment manager at The Rising Tide in Mount Maunganui and sister bar High Tide Tauranga, Lisa Rooney, said hospitality was very much a career.
Rooney landed a job at the dumpling and craft beer pub three years ago and has since been promoted from bar manager to general manager, and now works as the area and entertainment manager.
"A huge part of it is it dependent on how fairly you are treated, staff morale," she said. "It is a high-pressure job and I probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the support of my bosses."
Rooney said it took a special kind of person to handle the heat of the hospitality industry.
"The hardest thing is finding someone who can handle the pressure, but who can provide excellent customer service."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the recent growth created friendly rivalries between cafes, restaurants and bars, which meant better offerings for local residents and tourists.
''It also shows the strength of Tauranga's economy with more customers willing to spend more.
''The local hospitality industry is important for both local residents as well as our thriving tourism industry. It provides employment for many young people, particularly during the busy summer months.
''This report shows that competition in the hospitality industry is hotter than ever. This means blanket pay increases for all staff is not easy in a highly-competitive market.''
Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty regional manager Alan Sciascia said finding suitable staff had been increasingly difficult and it was not improving.
He said most people on the dole did not have the skills or experience for some jobs and tightened work visa regulations had made it even more difficult.
Tauranga businesses in the CBD had been impacted by developments and the expansion of malls while those in Mount Maunganui were going well.
Although the market was not as buoyant as 2016, Sciascia said there was some confidence that 2020 would be better than 2019.
Tourism Bay of Plenty's head of destination marketing, Kath Low, said the economic growth of the hospitality sector was fantastic for the region.
Kirsty Wynn, editor of job website Yudu, said the hardest positions to fill at this time of the year were wait staff.
''The restaurants are filling up and a lot of staff applying have working holiday or study visas. These come with certain restrictions.
''With the rising cost of produce, high market rent, and the high staff turnover business owners tell us it's hard to consistently make a profit. Raising the pay rates would attract more to the industry but it could harm the business.''
Finding good staff and rewarding them to encourage them to stay was important, she said.
Number of businesses closed in the Bay
Cafes and restaurants
2017 - 66
2018 - 51
Takeaway food services
2017 - 30
2018 - 39
2017 - 6
2018 - 9
Pubs, taverns and bars
2017 - 15
2018 - 6
Source: Restaurant Association of NZ