PROVINCIA DE CASTELLON – Many hotels in Castellón are desperate: they are looking for 2,500 workers for this summer because of the shortage of personnel in the Spanish tourism sector. Added to this is the lack of staff in restaurants and bars.
The extremely high occupancy rate between 85% and 95% for the months of July and August has set alarm bells ringing at the hotels. They are afraid that due to the lack of employees, they will not be able to provide all services. Something that again would mean not only a loss of competitiveness but also a significant setback in a season that is expected to be “between good and very good” according to data collected during the first quarter.
According to Javier Gallego, vice president of the hospitality association Hosbec in Castellón, the staff shortage in Castellón is greater than elsewhere in Spain. Gallego emphasises that the reality is much more complex than simply labour exploitation or poor wages.
After years of stagnation, an agreement was recently signed in the sector, which regularised wages. “If I say that a waiter charges €1,450 euros in 12 payments with two days off, and of course overtime is paid, it is because we are tired of hearing that the problem of the lack of staff is the salary Gallego said.
He points out that until a few years ago, these temporary positions were held by people who are now unavailable, such as university students who could work during the summer. In addition, he sees a lack of social recognition for working as a waiter as a factor that makes people look for other jobs.
Bureaucracy is also an obstacle if hotels want to hire employees from another autonomous region or even from abroad, for example. Sometimes such a permit is not finalised until the summer is almost over. Finally, there would be a lack of training to properly prepare people for working in hotels.
Lack of staff problem also in Malaga
According to Malaga Hoy, the hospitality industry in Malaga also suffers from a shortage of qualified personnel, especially in the field of serving and kitchen staff. The president of the Malaga hospitality association Aehcos wants more specialised schools to be set up to meet the demand for skilled workers.
The labour shortage here is attributed to factors such as the pandemic and a lack of young people entering the industry. The association works with social institutions to promote the employment of people at risk of social exclusion in the hospitality industry. The industry also organises job fairs to attract staff.
Switched to other sectors
La Vanguardia notes in this article that arounc 3% of workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic have permanently left the tourism industry due to demanding working conditions and stagnant wages.
However, the sector continues to lead in job creation, with more workers in the first quarter of 2023 than in the same months in 2019, before the pandemic. Retaining these employees is expected to be the biggest challenge for the industry.