Hospitality operators may be forced to downsize and agricultural businesses will be stretched if staff shortages in regional South Australia continue
- Regional staff shortages threaten businesses
- Restaurant owner considers downsizing in response to the pandemic
- One SA grain storage facility needs 1,500 workers
It follows a tumultuous year for the hospitality industry, with shutdowns leading to an exodus of workers opting for more secure employment.
Derek Matthewman, owner of the Bond Store microbrewery and restaurant at Wallaroo, knew the problem well after being forced to close the doors three times during the first year of operation.
“It’s very hard for business owners to know what’s coming up next, especially with staff and how many staff you need,” Mr Matthewman said.
“We are short about four people. It’s really hard to get staff at the moment.
Despite state-wide campaigns to encourage South Australians to holiday in their backyard, Mr Matthewman is concerned some small towns will struggle to accommodate a large influx of tourists during the summer holidays.
“We are going to have to reduce the size of our business to match the staffing,” he said.
“If you can’t have the staff to service all your customers then you have to look at other ways to operate.”
Competing for workers
The agricultural industry will be competing for seasonal workers, as farmers welcome a bumper harvest.
Grain storage company Viterra needs to hire 1,500 workers across SA and south-west Victoria by October.
Port Pirie operations manager Jack Tansley said the company would be hiring in regional towns across the state, including Port Pirie, Crystal Brook and Booleroo where about 60 people would be needed.
And he said in Gladstone, they needed up to 80 and up to 100 at Wallaroo.
Although last year’s border closures made it difficult to attract staff, Mr Tansley remained optimistic.
“We’re not seeing as many interstate people coming across or overseas travellers,” he said.
“We’re optimistic. We’re only early into the program now.”
No easy solution
The region’s federally-funded employment facilitator, Lisa Brock, said staff shortages were a problem across many sectors.
“They’re finding it really difficult to get staff, but then they’re so busy it’s difficult to bring in unskilled people and train them,” she said.
“There are lots of vacancies, from entry level jobs to skilled jobs to professional roles.”
She heard about the problems first-hand from businesses like Wallaroo’s Bond Store.
“While the regions offer great lifestyle and opportunities, what we are seeing is a lack of housing which is impacting on us bringing those people into the regions.”
However, Ms Brock said she was working to solve the problem by hosting information sessions.
“There’s no easy solution. There are a lot of different funding [opportunities] and resources available through the government.”