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Hospitality sector professionals looking for greener pastures

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The Economic Times
21st July, 2021 10:59 IST

Recruiters are seeing an unusual flow of resumes, a jump of almost 100% over last year, from professionals working in the hospitality sector.

With continued uncertainty over the sector returning to normal operations and surging job losses with many establishments shutting shop or downsizing, talent is rushing out to other sectors like ecommerce, food-tech, retail and technology, which are among the least hit by the pandemic.

According to recruitment and staffing firms like ABC Consultants, Taggd-a PeopleStrong brand and CIEL HR Services, people right from entry level to top level are desperately looking out for opportunities in other sectors and some are even starting up their own ventures.

“After the second wave, about 40% of restaurants and hotels in large markets have permanently closed operations. Even those that have reopened are operating at 25-30% capacity. This, along with continued uncertainty, is leading to loss of jobs and talent being lost to other sectors,” said Pradeep Shetty, senior vice president of the Hotel & Restaurant Association of Western India.

The hospitality sector has been one of the worst affected by the pandemic, causing high number of job losses and pay cuts. While some of the operators are reopening cautiously, the clouds of uncertainty still linger with the anticipation of a third wave of Covid-19, at least half a dozen recruitment and industry experts told ET.

Lite Bite Foods, which operates Punjab Grill, Artful Baker and YouMee restaurant brands, is bringing back its workforce gradually. “We are definitely not hiring. The challenge is, even among the workforce which is planning to return, uncertainty about reopening persists,” said director Rohit Aggarwal.

ABC Consultants that deals in recruiting senior to mid-level talent across sectors including hospitality and travel pegs the job losses at 40-50% in the sector during the pandemic. It is estimated that close to 40 million people in India are employed in this sector.

“Employment manning — balancing and rationing — is going to be the trend, going forward,” said Jhanvi Trivedi, associate director, services & building materials, ABC Consultants. ABC is getting 5 to 6 resumes per day from people working in this sector vis-à-vis 10-15 resumes a month before Covid.

It might take a couple of years for this sector to reach the pre-Covid levels, said experts. “This too could be challenging because a certain part of their talent pool might have migrated to other industries,” said Devashish Sharma, president, Taggd.

Sharma pegs the job losses in the pandemic at more than 6 million — 3.8 million after the first wave and about 2.3 million in the second.

Taggd is now getting double the number of resumes from job seekers who worked in the hospitality industry, compared with the pre-Covid times.

Not sure of a recovery in the near future, many professionals from this sector are moving to other sectors. For instance, according to CIEL HR, people in the front office are seeking opportunities in customer service, operations and sales; while those in finance, HR, admin, IT are looking for similar jobs elsewhere. Engineers are seeking opportunities in facilities management in other sectors.

But the staffers in the kitchen and housekeeping, which “are too specialised” jobs, do not have many options right now, said Aditya Narayan Mishra, CEO, CIEL HR Services.

According to earlier estimates by the National Restaurants Association of India, while 25-35% of mainstream restaurants in the organised sector would have shut down, the bigger hit has been on smaller hotels and restaurants where the permanent closure rate is 40-50%. “This has led to permanent job losses. Many are opting out of the sector altogether - and this is extending across all levels,” said a senior executive of a large global restaurant chain, requesting not to be named.

Some professionals have ventured into starting on their own, as home bakers or taking online classes.

“While others are offering consulting services to boutique/ small time business owners, many have gone back to their hometowns to go back to traditional businesses,” said ABC’s Trivedi.

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