What once was an opportunity to work at a premier seaside attraction, has now become a worry about further lockdowns and restrictions, according to Clacton Pier owner Billy Ball, who is finding it difficult to fill the many vacant staff positions at the pier now it has reopened. And Ball, as you will become acutely aware in the coming weeks, is not alone in the hospitality industry.
Clacton Pier is struggling to find employees for its arcade, food outlets and bar, with owner Billy Ball speaking about the on-going problems he is having in recruiting staff since the venue opened after lockdown.
Ball believes that potential employees have been put off from the leisure and hospitality industry due to its fragility in the face of Covid 19, preferring to opt for industries which haven’t had to close during the pandemic, when previously they would have been eager for a job on Clacton’s premier tourist attraction.
“In the past we have never had a difficulty with finding people to fill jobs – whether it be for our indoor facilities which run 364 days a year, or for the more seasonal outdoor ride jobs,” said Ball. “We have also had a very high percentage of people returning for seasonal posts year after year. The problem now is that they have seen that whenever there is a lockdown it is the leisure and hospitality sector that is the first to close and the last to re-open.
“This has had the effect that people are looking for jobs in other areas where they feel they have more confidence in continuity of employment. And once they do that you have lost them.”
There is certainly a case behind the workforces reluctance to return to hospitality and leisure, with Clacton Pier closing for a significant period over the last 18 months. Staff received furlough, but with furlough coming to an end, many are looking for safer bets to carry them forward into an uncertain future.
“It was tough to survive while we were closed as we still had the majority of our normal overheads without money coming in,” continued Ball. “We were grateful for the Government grants and furlough pay for the staff we had on our books.
“But since coming back we have found that we have been unable to recruit new staff and bring seasonal staff back.
“It is a worry going forwards as the remaining restrictions lift and we have more visitors at our attraction and need more employees. It is just another consequence of Covid.”
Ball added that the issue applies to both full and parttime posts at all levels. Clacton Pier, he said, has worked hard over the past 12 months to restructure staffing requirements and is now looking for many positions throughout the business, including arcade service engineer, ride maintenance engineer, food and beverage manager, arcade shift manager, chef, cashier, kitchen assistant, ride customer service assistant, arcade floor staff and bar attendant.