Pub bosses have told how they plan to run a recruitment drive in Spain, Italy and Greece in a bid to get bar staff to pull pints in Ireland.
Publicans have said staff are not returning to work in the industry after the pandemic due to the lack of supply and cost of accommodation.
The Dáil’s Tourism committee heard from representatives of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation Ireland (VFI) on Wednesday.
Its members reported that uncertainty about the future of the pub trade was the main reason that pubs across the country in rural and urban areas are having issues finding staff.
CEO of the Licensed Vintners Association, Donal O’Keeffe said: “This is a serious issue.
“I think the issue is most extreme in Dublin given the shortage of accommodation and the expense of rental accommodation.
“It is very difficult to attract our international staff back to Dublin, those who left during Covid, when they look at the cost of living now applying in Dublin in 2022.
“We’re also looking from an international perspective and working with Fáilte Ireland to see about putting on some conferences possibly in Spain, Italy, Greece, where there is a high young unemployment rate and maybe encourage them to come to Ireland.”
These European countries are being targeted by the hospitality industry due to their high youth unemployment rates, the committee heard.
Mr O’Keefe said that he expects the staffing crisis to impact Ireland for the next three to five years and called on the Government to make it easier for workers to come to Ireland.
TDs were told that the staff shortages have resulted in pubs closing to allow staff to take their holidays.
Some pubs have even closed for two days every week as they can’t recruit workers.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee is currently working on changes to licensing laws here which could see bars and nightclubs allowed to stay open until 5am – like other European cities.
But Mr O’Keefe claims that most of the pubs in their associations do not want to open any later than the traditional hours.
He told TDs that he “would be shocked” if there were more than 25 late licences issued to businesses in the capital.
He added: “Most of my members have no ambition to go beyond the traditional hours.
“The vast majority of the industry in Dublin and I believe in the rest of the country too are happy with the current hours for the weekend.
“We attract a lot of international tourists, we have a big local young population that on Friday and Saturday nights are keen to go out late.
“But it will be a small niche of the industry.”
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