Sunday, 05 December 2021

Pubs left short of staff after students return to university

Pubs left short of staff after students return to university

PUBS and other venues are facing staff shortages after university students returned to their studies.

Universities’ new academic year started this month so many students have gone back, leaving businesses that rely on casual staff with shortages.

Phyllis Court Club, off Marlow Road, Henley, has had to close its restaurants on some evenings.

Stan Ainsley, who chairs the private members’ club, said: “There have been times when the restaurant has not opened and it has impacted our members’ experience without a shadow of a doubt. It’s not easy at the moment.

“It’s not just Henley — I was in the Cotswolds and some pubs there have had to close due to staff shortages. It’s quite common across the UK.

“We’ve been on a recruitment drive for quite a few months as we could see this coming but we’ve had covid and Brexit and we’ve even had people transferring to become HGV drivers.”

He added that the problem could affect the club’s plans for the Christmas period.

The Loddon Brewery in Dunsden Green, which sells beer to pubs and has its own shop and tap room, has also faced staff shortages.

Dan Hearn, who runs the business with his parents Chris and Vanessa Hearn and brother Luke, said: “It’s normally people going back to university. It’s something that happens every year and we can’t really blame that on anything.

“We’re not particularly concerned about staffing and we are now on a recruitment drive looking for casual staff.”

Mathew Brumwell, who runs The Dub restaurant in Market Place, Henley, said he had been badly affected by students returning to university.

He said: “I’ve lost three members of staff and I have two left. We’ve had to shave our hours back by about 10 hours a week.

“With students you spend three to four months training them because the skills are maybe not there due to their age and now we’ve had a mass exit.

“We’ve also noticed that not a lot of people are going out to eat anyway. People spent lockdown building pubs or pizza ovens in their back gardens.”

Joe Ball, general manager of The Bull on Bell Street, Henley, said: “The last two years have been very up and down with staffing and we’re looking to recruit again now as a lot of staff that were available were university students. It is a bit thin on the ground but nothing we’re not used to.”

Graham Hughes, assistant manager of the Three Horseshoes pub in Reading Road, said he had only lost one university student who had since been replaced.

“I know some of the other pubs are struggling so we are lucky in that respect,” he said.

Lizzie Holster, deputy manager at the Packhorse pub in Woodcote Road, Mapledurham, said university students leaving always affects the business. She said: “This year it has been a lot more difficult to find front of house staff and chefs.

“It’s difficult to find the staff for zero hour contracts but the university student problem has always been a thing.

“They come back for the holidays as they run out of money and need to work and we’re lucky as these are our busiest times

“We had five leave this time but it has been six in previous years.

“Hopefully we’ll have them all come back plus five more starting. 

“For the time being we’re looking for another three part-timers to fill in the gaps. We’re okay at the moment but if someone wants to take a holiday or the weekend off we’re in a predicament, especially if someone got covid.”

“Where the pub is located is an issue because we’re out in the sticks so we ideally need people who drive.” 

Julianne Davies, manager at the Crown in Play Hatch, said it had lost about four students this year.

She said: “It happens every year and we are on a recruitment drive now. It’ll be whoever we can get at the moment. Hopefully, the students will return at Christmas”. 

Jayne Worrall, landlady of yhe Bell Pub in High Street, Wargrave, said hadn’t had an issue with staff.

She said: “I’ve lost the odd booking because of the petrol issue but I don’t have a lot of students working for me at the moment.”

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