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The difficulties in finding qualified waiters is an already endemic problem that does not respond to a specific season, but it is in summer when restaurants most accuse it. Nor is it linked to a particular region, countries such as Germany, Portugal or the United States also suffer from it, but the truth is that in the Community of Madrid more than half of the establishments, 56.7%, are having difficulties to cover jobs this summer.

At least this is clear from a study prepared by the Madrid Association of Catering Companies (AMER), who argues that the growth of tourism is in turn a challenge for hospitality SMEs as a result of this shortage of personnel.

"I get an average of 80 to 100 resumes a day through Infojobs. Once I write to you, I am left with four or five that are the ones that really meet the three basic requirements: experience in the sector, immediate incorporation and time availability. That gives an average of 20 selected per week. Of them, on Fridays I call them and I can only locate 10... And the personal interview is attended by about four, who are people who need to work, but without capacity. Yes, it's complicated," says Roberto Martín, owner of the century-old cafeteria-pastry shop El Riojano, in the middle of Calle Mayor.

Historically, summer was always considered low season in the region. But, according to AMER, in the last five years the number of Madrid restaurants that choose to take a summer break has been reduced to more than half. Something that generates more than one headache: more days open with the same staff is not always possible, so the same study reveals that up to 43.3% of these businesses have had to cut their services and hours of activity due to the problems caused by the lack of labor.

'Lack of commitment'

"It's hard to know how long it may take to find an optimal profile... Either you find someone fast, but sometimes not professional, or it can take up to 30 days, "they explain to this newspaper from the central RedBar restaurant. Although, they recall, sometimes you think you have found the right person and you suffer a setback: workers who, a few days after being hired, decide to resign. "This is more prevalent than you think. Some throw CVs in several places and, even if you have already hired them first, they can receive a better offer and change ... It is a lack of commitment that generates instability for us by having to put the personnel search mechanisms back in motion."

But are there really no waiters in the region of beers and tapas? Juan José Blardony, director of the Hostelería Madrid association, provides a surprising fact. There are 17 400 unemployed people in the Community with more than three years' experience in this industry, according to the regional employment service. And about 9,000 with 12 months experience.

"There are problems with linking supply and demand. Many unemployed are with benefits and that can slow down their incorporation into the labor market, the same does not compensate them ... We must analyze the causes of not being incorporated having a great demand in the sector, "says Blardony, for whom among the skills that a good professional must have, empathy and the ability to relate to the public stand out. "It's the difference between returning to a place or not, they are highly valued skills."

To the precariousness and low wages that some voices highlight when this issue is put on the table, Blardony believes that "there is a certain part of myth in the sense of the little dignity that they want to give us", making it clear that "there are collective agreements signed and that, if we talk about average salary, we are not the worst sector". "Investments have to be accompanied by talent to compete with Paris, Berlin or London. This happens by paying good salaries to workers, having premises decorated with striking atmosphere, increasingly innovative cuisine ... All that defines the new hospitality industry and we want to talk about it, not just cases where there may be precariousness or poor conditions."

As an example that everything is changing, the president of Hostelería Madrid emphasizes how some restaurants have been modernized, being they the ones that adapt to the worker. An example is McDonald's, whose franchises, queens of turnover, are more than accustomed to the comings and goings of employees, with 22,000 direct positions and generating 60,000 indirect ones.

In the mouth of its director of People in Spain, Alberto Unzurrunzaga, they are "continuously" looking for new additions, so they have recently launched an employment campaign "based on flexibility" that is allowing them to "cover the needs" during this summer. "More and more candidates value it," concludes this spokesman.

A dynamic not yet widespread since, in addition to professionalization, a large part of entrepreneurs continue to highlight availability and flexible hours as essential qualities in a good hotelier.

  • Articles Daniel Somolinos

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