DAVID SUTHERLAND: Need for trade and Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise to work together to promote hospitality jobs in Inverness
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It’s never been easier to get a job in Inverness – if you’re willing to work in the hospitality sector.
Shouldn’t there be greater focus on the shortage of people to fill that industry’s jobs vacancies which are a hidden threat to the post-pandemic recovery in and around Inverness?
Meanwhile, another under-the-radar crisis is being suffered by local carers, hit by rising prices and fuel bills.
Just when tourists are flocking in to the city, you see the notices in restaurant and hotel windows seeking to fill vacancies.
Covid is part of the problem – one of our best restaurants closed for a week recently because four chefs tested positive at the same time.
Brexit, with many Europeans opting to go home or work in EU countries, is clearly a factor. Perhaps lack of forward thinking in the industry is another.
The bottom line is that Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the trade itself need to work together to promote hospitality jobs and support interested people into these jobs.
Before Covid, the Scottish hospitality sector created £6 billion of new economic activity each year, added a further £3 billion to the local supply chain and employed 285,000 people.
We need the newly-elected councillors to ask questions about unfilled jobs and the best way of providing a pipeline of talent to fill them.
Incidentally, I see UK Hospitality Scotland is calling for councils to shelve the ‘tourist tax’ as it would impede recovery. Highland Council, take note?
Chefs are in short supply – the message has to be that these are good, well-paid jobs with training supplied for a rewarding career. Already, local operators are channelling their hours round staff restrictions rather than customer needs.
The days of too many cooks spoiling the broth are gone – now there’ll be no broth without someone to make it!
From chefs to carers – the unpaid heroes and heroines who are in most local streets, doing something for family or friends out of love and dedication.
The pandemic followed by the cost of living crisis is causing increasing financial hardship to carers, and the worry is that many will simply be unable to cope.
I’ve been in the fortunate position of being able to assist carers in the past, including hosting a fundraising dinner attended by the The Princess Royal at Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness, and I recognise the great value of their contribution to our community.
Being a carer already limits your earning ability and the current rising energy and food prices eats in to their budget.
There are several hundred such carers in and around Inverness, and we shouldn’t forget about them.
New research by Carers UK shows carers are being forced to dip into their savings or run up credit card bills just to get by. Some 45 per cent of unpaid carers feel their own physical or mental health is being affected by this financial pressure.
Of those who receive a carer’s allowance, 58 per cent are worried they may have to use a food bank. Shouldn’t NHS Highland and Highland Council check on this situation locally, and raise the alarm?
The UK and Scottish governments should take urgent action to increase support for our ‘quiet army’ of carers. The roles these deserving people perform are vital to the lives of those they look after.