Yamba chef shortage a pressure cooker situation
IT SEEMS Yamba has more hospitality jobs available than the tourist town can handle, leaving restaurants and cafes scrambling to find enough staff before the population doubles over Christmas.
The biggest shortfalls are in kitchens; last week there were 11 cook or chef vacancies listed on Seek.
That number has slightly reduced now, but according to NORTEC business development manager Ian Webster there are still at least six places actively looking for kitchen staff in Yamba, and up to 15 vacancies across the rest of the Clarence.
"Most places were looking to fill these vacancies around the last school holidays so they had time to get themselves prepared, but this year they are still looking," he said.
"We have, from time to time, qualified chefs on our books but they get snapped up pretty quickly. We can't keep up with demand."
Yamba Shores Tavern head chef Kirsten Mainland is currently advertising for three chef/cook positions, and the tavern is also looking to employ a number of other hospitality staff.
"When I first advertised for one chef, before I needed three, there were nine chefs needed in town," she said.
"It's definitely a skill shortage."
Ms Mainland said she believed a culmination of factors were responsible, including the scarcity of affordable rentals, the small pool of local employers, and a tendency for hospitality workers to 'jump ship' at this time of year.
"If we can't find some extra chefs, we'll certainly be forced to do our best with what we've got, and there might be very few days off over the Christmas period," she said.
"Our population jumps to about 27,000 for that Christmas/New Year period and there are more people coming here every year.
"That's a lot of mouths to feed."