Coffs Coast Hospitality Staff Shortage as Holidays Approach

Alexandra Vendeoux, a French national, works the bar at The Sunset Room at Woolgoolga.


HOLIDAYS are fast approaching and is typically the busiest time of year for our friends and family in hospitality.

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But staffing rates in the industry have dropped due to the tough start to 2020 as bushfires impacted the region and tourist numbers decreased.

Then Covid-19 came further restricting service and forcing many business owners to scale down operations.

Now, as business is scaling up again across the region the multiple impacts on the hospitality industry are being felt particularly as the industry grapples to find applicants for jobs.

Covid Safe procedures also come at a cost, taking staff away from normal service procedures.

To service visitors in a professional manner, the industry is in need of skilled hospitality staff.

Even larger organisations like clubs and pubs that have designated Human Resources staff are finding it hard to attract staff, some have reported less than10 applicants for advertised positions that in previous years would have had over 100.

Karen Curnow, the Human Relations Manager at CEX in Coffs Harbour, is encouraging people to take up a position in hospitality this summer season.

“The hospitality industry is a great place to begin your working life whether it’s your chosen career or not.

“It provides you with skills that you can utilize in any job role building resilience, team work, confidence, and the ability to talk to people from all walks of life young and old,” she said.

“Experience in the hospitality industry will also provide you with the experience and security of being able to get a job anywhere.”

Danielle Wallace, owner/manager of The Sunset Room Italian restaurant and bar at Woolgoolga agrees that applications from Australians have been down in the last twelve months.

“We have been blessed that we have had experienced staff from all over the world, French, Italian and Venezuela for example.

“But with borders opening and the berry picking season winding down they will move on,” she said.

Ms Wallace would love to get more applications from Aussies and thinks the hospitality industry is a ticket to the world.

“The hospitality industry is a colourful, fun, fabulous industry that can take you all over the world.”

Some strategies that can assist to address the critical staff gaps are rolling out across the region.

Among these is the digital platform designed by Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast (RDAMNC) called My Future Workforce (MFW).

“We understand the recruitment process can be difficult and expensive for small employers.” said Kerry Grace, CEO of Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast.

“We designed My Future Workforce to make job advertising, and job finding easier for all parties in our regional communities and it’s a free service that’s different to national or commercial services as it’s been designed by our local employers and for our local employers.”

FInd more information at

Another initiative is the Summer Skills – Free Skills Training for 2020 launched by the NSW Department of Education.

The program invites Year 12 school leavers to attend short courses that include the participation in safe food handling practice, provide responsible gambling services, provide responsible service of alcohol and use hygienic practices for food safety – all of which have been mentioned by employers as desirable when they look to hire for the upcoming season.

More information can be found at skills.html.


By Sandra MOON

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