Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Publicans have been forced to reduce opening hours and even shut some days due to a shortage of skilled staff, an Oireachtas Committee has heard.

Groups representing pub owners appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media on Wednesday to outline difficulties faced as the sector attempts to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Donal O’Keefe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), said that two years of closures and restrictions has had a devastating impact on staff retention, with nine out of 10 publicans reporting staffing issues.

“Based on our own member survey, some of the key business impacts arising from the shortage of staff include reduced number of trading hours due to later opening and reduced number of trading days,” he said.

“88 per cent of members reported staff recruitment is a serious difficulty while 89 per cent of members were worried about staff shortages in 2022.”

In his opening statement, Mr O’Keefe said that an estimated third of staff have left the sector since the pandemic began.

“Obviously the pub sector experienced an extraordinary lockdown,” he told Newstalk radio ahead of the meeting.

“We were closed or heavily restricted for virtually two full years, and over that time period, we lost more than a third of our staff, many international staff returning home and having left the country, and lots of staff having left the pub sector to go to work in other sectors of the economy that were open.”

It comes after the chief executive of the Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) earlier this month warned that the staffing crisis facing the hospitality industry will only become more pronounced over the coming summer months.

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