The proprietor of Delifonseca Dockside is calling on the city’s young people to consider a career in hospitality as the industry continues to struggle to recruit following the pandemic.
Candice Fonseca, who opened the award-winning Brunswick restaurant and deli back in 2010, said it has never been more difficult to find new staff and that venues like hers are in desperate need of options to overcome a noticeable lack of potential candidates.
It’s been reported that the UK’s hospitality industry took a one hundred- and fifteen-billion-pound hit following two years of Covid disruption in the form of restrictions, closures and staff shortages due to illness.
Candice said: “Liverpool’s hospitality businesses were hit hard during the pandemic and we’re still feeling the effects of it on a daily basis. Although things now feel less restricted, restaurants and bars like ours are facing the next big hurdle as we try and recruit. Even though we retained most of our workforce, some decided it was time to rethink their career futures and either retrain or join other industries.”
Throughout Covid, Delifonseca adapted its operations in a bid to keep the business open, while remaining dedicated to delivering food across the city. It offered customers chef-prepared meals to collect or to be dropped off safely to their doorsteps, as well as its entire food hall product range, including specialist and everyday groceries, meat from its in-house butchers Edge & Son, cooking kits, and cheese and wine.
It also converted its online shop to enable customers to browse and purchase some of the restaurant’s most popular products.
Since reopening in a more normal capacity, Delifonseca has tried to dispel the negative stigma that surrounds the sector by employing a number of young people themselves, including both through the Government Kickstarter scheme and directly in roles including front of house, barista and chef.
Candice added: “I just think that children are rarely encouraged to pursue a career in our industry. It can be one of the most rewarding and entertaining careers out there. Each day is different, meeting new people every day, delivering and sharing in essentially pleasurable interactions; it really can be a true vocation for individuals that have a passion for food and drink and are social beings.
“And for everyone else, it is still worth doing as you work towards a different goal or vocation. So much so that I think parents should be insisting their kids get a part-time hospitality job to get them into the concept of work and build all of the following. The list of skills that accompany hospitality work is infinite, like multi-tasking, customer service etiquette, leadership, and teamwork. You are challenging yourself constantly every day, and you build up crucial problem-solving skills. Not only that you learn how to deal with people from all walks of life and how to sell both products and you. That confidence is a real life-skill and will help them come up trumps in interviews and other work environments.
“Confidence and social skills seem to be what young people today are lacking as they have been cooped up staring at screens due to the pandemic. With the talent pool going dry, I think this is the perfect opportunity to empower the young people in our city and get them in the business when we need them the most.”
During the pandemic, nearly 80% of hospitality workers were furloughed – the highest proportion out of all UK industries. A recent survey by industry association UK Hospitality revealed a current vacancy rate across the sector of 9% – which implied a shortage of 188,000 workers.
Candice added: “I’m not saying that hospitality is for everyone, but the industry has a lot going for it. Some will find their career for life, and some won’t, however they will all have an insightful outlook on the industry and important credentials that will stay with them for the long run.
“Throughout life, from my experience, confidence is key and it’s these transferable and adaptable skills that our younger generation need. Let’s push our youth to gain these fundamental abilities and have an enjoyable time whilst they do so.”