"Right now, we already feel that there is more manpower on the market. We don't know if it will be enough. We believe it won't be yet," said Fernando Garrido, from ADHP.
The Association of Hotel Managers of Portugal (ADHP) believes that the results of measures to address the lack of labour in the sector will be visible in the summer, especially in the Algarve, although it suspects there will still be a shortage of workers.
In an interview with Lusa, Fernando Garrido was optimistic, although with reservations, about the success of the policies adopted, particularly the increase in salaries and agreements with other countries to import labour, to solve the lack of workers in the sector, a critical situation in 2022.
“We’ll get the result exactly this peak season, more so in the Algarve, which was one of the regions that suffered most from the lack of [human] resources. There were hotels that did not reopen [post-pandemic] due to lack of staff”, a reality that, according to Fernando Garrido, “was felt across” the entire country.
The president of ADHP was speaking in an interview with Lusa ahead of the organisation’s 19th congress, scheduled for 30 and 31 March in Albufeira, during which labour and salary problems in the sector will be topics for debate.
As a result of the aforementioned measures, as well as a change in the policy of retaining workers in the low season to guarantee labour for the high season at the beginning of the year, the president of ADHP assures that it can already be felt that there are more workers in the sector.
“There is a paradigm that has changed. When the activities had a decrease in demand we dismissed some people. This year we started to retain more people, that is, we made an effort during the low season, in order to keep people so that afterwards we wouldn’t have the difficulty of rehiring and training”, he said.
“Right now, we already feel that there is more manpower on the market. We don’t know if it will be enough. We believe it won’t be yet,” he added.
He explained that in the case of contracts through agreements with immigrants, this workforce will “help substantially”, namely in the first phase to cover areas of less contact with the client, given the lack of training with which they arrive in the country.
Despite applauding the measures taken, Fernando Garrido says that they will not be enough if the conditions for the sustainability of personal and professional life are not provided.
“We have a labour shortage, and we also have little attraction for employees. We have a business area that works 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and it is inevitable that all employees have to work Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, holy days and the like. We have to do the balance. It is inevitable that we do it because only by giving this balance to the employees will we be able to attract them”, he said.
Faced with the fact that the bosses themselves claim that the quality of service in the hotel industry fell in 2022 as a result of these constraints, Fernando Garrido acknowledged this reality, also pointing out that there was a “substantial increase in the purchase price for the customer”.
“The whole way of welcoming employees has changed in the hotel industry. Before we received employees, we knew they had basic training, and we dealt with the welcoming training. Since last year, we started receiving employees without any kind of training, from the area or outside the area, and we started having to train them for that, to welcome,” he said.
“But on top of that, we came across situations of lack of knowing how to be. This is very critical in the area we are in because knowing how to be is the basis,” he lamented.
Permanent training were the key words in 2022, as “turnover [of workers] was very high”.
Given the sector’s high demand for workers, the head revealed that “enticement was such that an employee would be here today and gone tomorrow”.