With restaurants facing a serious staff shortage and some even reducing their hours as a result, Chamber of Commerce head Marisa Xuereb is looking to both the past and the future for solutions.
Interviewed on Lovin Daily this morning, Xuereb warned few students are interested in working in restaurants as a part-time job nowadays because of the hours the job entails.
“The bulk of work needs to be done in the evenings and over the weekend, a time when people nowadays are reluctant to be working, especially after being indoors for practically a whole year,” Xuereb said.
“People are looking forward to a summer of going out, particularly the younger generation.”
“Traditionally the restaurant industry relied heavily on students having part-time jobs while studying and gaining experience on how to interact with all kinds of people.”
Xuereb said this phenomenon is resulting in two problematic outcomes – a smaller pool of workers for restaurants and a diminishing skill set for students.
“I think we’re struggling across the board to find a balance between having fun and learning, as well as assigning value to things that have value,” she said.
“Working in catering has enormous value for any students, even if you want to become a doctor or an engineer. You get experience from dealing with people in a restaurant environment, and we need to attach value to that experience.”
The Chamber head recently also urged restaurants to address their staff problem by investing in robot waiters.
On Lovin Daily, she said that while human waiters will still be needed to interact with customers, robot trolleys can help them carry the dishes around the restaurant.
“This way, the waiter job will become more attractive because it will involve less physical work.”
“The carrying can be done quite easily by a smart trolley that does not need to look like a human being; I’m personally put off by robots that look like humans. A trolley should look like a trolley but it should be smart enough to find its way from the kitchen to a specific table.”
Xuereb argued that if robots help restaurants complete the same tasks with fewer people, the restaurants will become more productive and will be able to increase salaries for their remaining staff.
“The only way to increase productivity is to use technology so that what we are currently producing with 50 people in a restaurant can be produced with 20 or 30, and we will be able to pay those 20 to 30 better.”
“The other 20 aren’t there anyway so it’s not an issue of people losing their jobs but of being able to operate when you don’t have enough staff.”