Hospitality in Malaga is forced to look for staff in Africa and South America

by Lorraine Williamson
hospitality industry

MADRID – Semana Santa, the week before Easter, is fast approaching. For the hotels, restaurants and bars in southern Spain, this means the kick-off of the high season. However, many entrepreneurs in the sector are at a loss. There is hardly any staff available in the hospitality industry. 

The shortage of qualified personnel in the sector is acute. Employers have now even had to expand their search for employees to other continents, such as Africa or America. This confirms Fernando Martínez, vice president of the association of hoteliers in Málaga (Mahos) in La Opinión de Málaga. 

“We search in Morocco, Gambia or South America, in short, all over the world,” explains Martínez. Furthermore, Spain is not the onlycountry to explore the African continent in search of personnel. Companies in Germany are also extending their sights to countries such as Ghana to import personnel. And last season, even the Netherlands were looking to Spain for staff.

Yet that is easier said than done. Bureaucracy is a hindrance in this kind of intercontinental recruitment. Before the employee can start work, companies must regularise their situation in Spain. And that process can sometimes take a very long time. That is why employers in Malaga are asking to speed up administrative procedures” to facilitate the entry of non-EU workers. 

Low willingness to work in hospitality industry

For the vice president of Mahos, a lack of willingness of professionals to work lies at the root of the personnel problem. “There is a big problem in the hospitality industry, what is clear is that people do not want to work,” he criticises. 

The vice president seems to ignore an important factor that may contribute to this low willingness. Catering work in Spain, especially in the south and for Spanish employers, is often very poorly paid. Hourly wages of less than €5 are not uncommon. Moreover, people often work many more hours than stated on their contract, which is almost always temporary, so that employers have to pay fewer social security contributions for them.

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