The Costa del Sol has been looking forward to a summer of recovery following the coronavirus pandemic, but there is a major problem: a shortage of staff in the hotel and hospitality sector, including waiters, cooks, kitchen assistants, cleaning and maintenance staff and others in hotels, bars, restaurants, beach clubs and ‘chiringuito’ beach restaurants all along the coast.
There are still around 1,000 vacancies despite the fact that in February, for the first time ever, the Aehcos hotel association organised a recruitment day in Malaga. “It worked well; 2,100 applicants came, but that still hasn’t been enough for the Costa to function at full capacity,” the association’s president, Javier Hernández, told SUR.
In May, more than 92,000 people were working in the sector in Malaga province, which was more than the same month in 2018 and 2019. Those were exceptional months for tourism, but in 2022 is still not enough.
The question is: how can there be a lack of workers in a province where 140,000 people are unemployed, of whom around 7,000 are experienced waiting staff?
“In these two years, when the sector came to a halt because of the pandemic, a lot of people had to find jobs in other sectors such as logistics, transport, retail or construction. After two years doing those jobs, when the chance came to go back to the hospitality sector, they didn’t want to,” said Andrea Santana of the Adecco employment agency.
Another reason, more than salaries, is the working conditions. “It’s true that it is a hard sector to work in,” said Santana, who wants employers to make improvements such as organising straight shifts. In terms of salary, Hernández said the hotels’ hands are tied: “we have to comply with the agreement we have with the unions. We can’t pay new staff more money,” he said.
Another problem recognised by employers in the hospitality sector is a lack of affordable accommodation for potential employees who would be prepared to move to Malaga from elsewhere, as rents on the Costa del Sol soar in the summer months.