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Jobseekers don't bite as hospitality industry seeks 10K new workers

One-third of employees in the hospitality sector have only part-time jobs, according to industry association MaRa.

Mari Liimatainen prepares coffee at Hämeenlinna's Hotel Emilia. Image: Ville Välimäki / Yle

The hospitality industry trade association MaRa says employers in the hotel and restaurant fields will need as many as 10,000 new workers in the next four years, but jobseekers seem to have little appetite for work in the sector.

According to Timo Lappi, CEO of the Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa, the industry is growing due to a demand for more restaurant services. However over the past two to three years, employers throughout the country have struggled to attract new staff.

Raimo Hoikkala, an employment contract specialist with the service workers' union PAM, agreed that recruitment has been a stumbling block in the field – and not just in tourism hotspots like Lapland.

He noted that students also appear to be uninterested in restaurant and hotel jobs, partly because the work is seen as laborious, working hours are variable, contracts are part-time and the wage level is seen as unattractive.

Part-time work a tough sell

CEO of the Tawastia group of hotels Karoliina Mäki-Kuutti admitted that part-time work is an especially tough sell for employers.

"When you offer less work that immediately limits the number of applicants," she added.

MaRa calculated that one-third of employees in the hospitality sector have only part-time jobs, partly because of the seasonality of the business. For example, bars are active mostly on weekends.

Although work is available, fewer young people are interested in pursuing professions as chefs or bartenders. At the Tavastia vocational college in Hämeenlinna, training manager Merja Kytöaho said that she is concerned about the trend.

"Something needs to be done to arouse young people’s interest. The appeal of the chef’s programme has dwindled since the supply has increased," she noted

Year eight students in industry sights

The Tavastia vocational school has begun to target even younger people with its programmes. It has set up an eight-step orientation programme for local eighth-year students and has also reached out to year nine students.

The hospitality association MaRa is also planning to reel in year eight students with a "restaurant experience day" to take place in April. It will invite 20,000 young people to attend in a bit to generate interest in a career in the industry.

In addition, MaRa said it wants to enlist local YouTube personalities to persuade students to consider potential employers in hotels and restaurants for Finland’s nationwide two-day introduction to work programme, known as "TET" or "Työelämään tutustuminen".