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Virginia restaurant and hospitality industry facing workforce shortage

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As the Commonwealth starts to ease back into pre-pandemic life, many industries are being hit hard as they struggle to rehire and fill positions. The Virginia restaurant and hospitality industry is hoping to help through training and job fairs.

“If the restaurant or hotel is not fully staffed, they can’t provide the service you expect,” explained Jim Wilson, with the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association. “We’re hoping for full recovery, we just need the workforce to help us with that.”

Wilson says one factor can’t be blamed for the issue but says employees were furloughed when the pandemic started and some people are getting jobs in different industries.

“Extended benefits to unemployment have been a hindrance as well,” he said.

Wilson says some businesses are changing pay structures and offering starting bonuses to new employees. They are also looking at ways to update health a safety guidelines to protect employees and customers.

“We are currently having restaurants that need to shut down for a day or two because they don’t have the workforce, or hotels having to shut down floors because they don’t have the workforce, we have never had those issues before,” Wilson explained.

Partnering with VEC, the association is hosting a virtual job fair on May 27th from 1-5 pm, and with the help of $255,500 in grants, VRLTA is offering a workforce training program to help people train for a job or grow in the one they are in.

The upskilling training program offers free training courses, available through the National Restaurant Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association Educational Institute, to currently employed, underemployed, and out-of-work restaurant and hotel employees.

“The courses offered are recognized within the industry as high-quality training options, and they give workers not only a chance to improve their skills in their current job or become more marketable when seeking work but also set themselves up for career growth,” said Wilson. “Employers can also recommend their employees for training, which helps to raise the knowledge and quality of service across the organization.”

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