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Martinborough’s staff sinkhole

Martinborough’s hospitality businesses are struggling to find experienced workers. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

While Martinborough’s restaurants, cafes, and bars cry out for experienced workers, accommodation and transport remain the biggest hurdles for potential candidates.

Pukemanu Bar and Eatery manager Vicky Norman said she would usually use Facebook or a noticeboard in the bottle store to advertise vacancies. Word of mouth would take care of the rest.

However, this summer, the bar had struggled to hire temporary workers.

“There just weren’t enough university students to fill all the roles around Martinborough, with all the restaurants, bars, and vineyards as well.”

The Martinborough Business Association had proposed a solution for hospitality businesses in need of short-term or casual staff in the second half of last year.

The “Marty Job Share Collaboration” provided a platform for the hospitality and retail community to share their casual and part-time vacancies.

Although the collaboration was not focused on permanent work, association chairman Alan Hogg said the initiative would help to make a person work-ready when permanent full-time work did become available.

Employees looking for extra hours of work could access them on a job share basis, Hogg said.

“If someone is working for Employer A, and Employer B needs a casual worker for X hours a day, X days a week, those employers will both be notified. If Employer A circulates the job around their casual staff and a staff member is interested in accessing extra hours of work, then that employee is shared with Employer B.”

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment website, employees could be placed on a secondment for a fixed time with another host business.

Hogg said the initiative had had some early success.

“One employer here was offering a shift from 4pm to 8pm into their business. The Marty Job Share became an ideal vehicle for that person to be able to access casual staff.”

However, the search for more experienced staff remained a battle for Martinborough employers.

“It’s been a struggle finding duty managers and qualified chefs, and a lot of that is to do with there being no accommodation in Martinborough,” Norman said.

Norman had advertised for a head chef role but said people from Auckland who were interested in the job had been unable to find any rental properties in Martinborough.

“We’re all offering competitive wages for the Wairarapa region … but you still can’t attract them.”

Hogg said the lack of accommodation was a major barrier to recruiting experienced workers, saying a lack of reliable transport exacerbated the issue.

“The closest place that you could live is Featherston or Greytown, but that still involves travel,” Norman said. “One thing that I’ve noticed working down in Martinborough is that Kiwis generally don’t like to travel for their jobs.”

Hogg said the association would continue to look for solutions alongside the South Wairarapa Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs.

The only solution was to create more subdivisions in Martinborough for staff accommodation, Norman said.

“Until that happens, we’re just going to keep sinking in the hole of not attracting staff to Martinborough.”

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