“But where did the workforce go? “: in Vichy (Allier), restaurants face a shortage of staff

Some admit that they no longer sleep at night. Between the coming summer, attendance no doubt boosted by the Unesco effect, and the end of health restrictions, all the elements seem to be in place for Vichy restaurateurs to have a good season. And especially on the banks of the Allier. Yes, but here it is: more than ever, there is a lack of manpower. Which is not without consequences.

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What is the situation ?

Concretely, and on a scale rarely observed in recent years in the sector, job candidates in the restaurant sector are sorely lacking as the main tourist season begins. According to some Vichy restaurateurs, the number of positions still to be filled in the city is around 60 to 80. With their terraces taken over by customers on sunny days, the banks of the Allier are affected in the first place by this shortage. “Usually, my team for the season is quickly put together. There, in mid-April, I had six positions left to fill?! “says Florent Lattat, manager of the Mirage, on the right bank. Who obviously posted ads everywhere, starting with Pôle Emploi and social networks. And he is not the only one: there are few restaurants which, in recent weeks, have not published advertisements to recruit staff and strengthen their kitchen or service staff. In vain, often. For the moment, this recruitment has often turned “to disaster”, breathes this Bellerivois restaurateur.

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How can this shortage be explained?

Recruiting was already no picnic before the health crisis. But this made the situation much worse. In any case, this is the observation made by many professionals. “There is very clearly a post-covid effect”, regrets this other restaurateur, who draws up an observation shared by many of his colleagues: “With the confinements, many have discovered a more peaceful life, with rest, the life of family… These people no longer want to come to the restaurant business, where the schedules are often restrictive”. There is also the question of wages, which is obviously significant, especially at a time when purchasing power continues to decline.

“Some prefer to do something they like less so they can earn a little more”

A bar manager

The catering trades are currently suffering from a real lack of attractiveness…

How are restaurants adapting?

Faced with this glaring lack of personnel, which they still hope to be able to fill by recruiting students at the end of the school year, professionals in the sector are adapting. Some have already made strong choices: they do not open certain evenings of the week in order to be able to mobilize their staff on weekends, when the crowds are always higher. Others, while waiting for better days, plan to reduce their opening times, by closing earlier for example. “We can also close one day a week, or even reduce the number of seats. But that would not give a very good image, especially for a city that wants to welcome more and more tourists, ”notes Florent Lattat, the manager of the Mirage.

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Her neighbor Isabelle Charpin, manager of the Terrasses de Vichy, “who has never faced so many difficulties” to recruit her, has come to resort to “the D system”. “Basically, when we have people, we sometimes explain to people that we are not able to serve the sweet menu. But honestly, it’s not viable in the long term, and we can’t do that for an entire season. This is why, like so many of her colleagues, the manager still wants to believe that she will succeed in completing her teams with reinforcements that have become a rarer commodity than ever…

Pierre Geraudie

Photos Corentin Garault

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