French labour shortages
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Even in France, waiters and chefs have lost their taste for the job
Struggling to find extra staff, the manager of a bar in the Paris region recently asked her sister to drive for an hour to help out on a busy evening, during a televised football match. At a Normandy sea-front restaurant, a waitress says they are under-staffed because former colleagues will no longer put up with unsociable evening and weekend work. Diners in Paris report the sudden appearance of shorter menus, as restaurants adapt their kitchens to staff shortages, as well as the presence of improbably young (and ungrumpy) fresh recruits now waiting at tables en terrasse.
Two months after France reopened outdoor dining, restaurants and bars face a staffing crunch. The share of hospitality firms reporting recruitment problems doubled in June from the previous month, according to a Bank of France survey. When restaurants and hotels were closed for months during lockdown, many former staff acquired a taste for normal family life, says Julia Rousseau, head of éthique RH, a recruitment consultancy. She now sees candidates seeking alternative careers, as estate agents or in banks. "The pandemic has reordered their priorities," she says.
Hospitality is not the only sector with this trouble. In June 44% of all firms reported recruitment problems, with the figure rising to 50% for construction work. "The bottleneck for French growth in mid-2021", wrote Franois Villeroy de Galhau, governor of the Bank of France, earlier this month, is "the reappearance, already, of hiring difficulties." France's case is particularly striking because its unemployment rate, at 7.5%, is higher than the OECD average (though lower than that of the euro area). Firms face labour shortages even as 2.4m people are officially looking for work.