NSW staff shortages, cost of living and housing crisis are pushing businesses to the brink

What started as a joke turned into a cry for help from a bakery in northern New South Wales desperate to attract staff.

Kingscliff business owner Allan Morrison offers a daily supply of sourdough bread to anyone who can secure a baker for him.

The offer lasts for the rest of the year, but will be withdrawn if the potential employee subsequently quits.

Mr Morrison said he had been looking for a baker for around six months, but so far had only received applications from overseas or from people with no baking experience.

He said the situation was forcing his bakery to limit opening hours, preventing it from expanding and putting more pressure on its existing staff.

The situation has come to a head as one of his bakers plans to take time off to visit his family in Nepal.

“We are interested in using all means to try to find a baker who might want to come and work for us,” Mr Morrison said.

He said the shortage of bakers was due to people retiring during COVID and the continued absence of overseas working holidaymakers.

“We may have to increase the supply to include donuts,” he said.

Industries from hospitality to healthcare are struggling to find staff.(ABC News: Cathy Border)

“Devastating impact”

Business NSW said the staff shortages were the worst in half a century.

A recent statewide study found that 90% of the more than 600 business owners surveyed had vacancies.

A smiling blonde woman on a black background.
Business NSW’s Jane Laverty says the labor shortage is pushing operators to the brink.(Provided: Business NSW)

Regional manager Jane Laverty said the situation was even worse in the northern rivers, where many businesses were struggling to keep operating.

“It has a devastating impact on our businesses,” she said.

“It’s not just qualified people, it’s this entry-level position that they’re struggling to fill, and that really concerns me.

” [The NSW government has] invests in free training – whatever they can to equip people with the skills they need for the job.

Ms Laverty said business operators were running themselves and their staff were in tatters.

“They shut down their businesses for one, two and three days a week just to make sure they can take care of the staff they have, and also take care of themselves,” she said. declared.

Cherry Street Sports Club general manager Tere Sheehan said he could employ up to 12 new staff tomorrow if the candidates were there.

The group, which operates bowling clubs in Ballina and Lennox Head, said the 90-person squad was in danger of running out after months of being understaffed.

Push for incentives

Mr Sheehan said the cost of living and housing was crowding out workers in the area.

A man with short black hair and a well-groomed goatee stands in front of a display of flowers in a hall.
Tere Sheehan says he could employ 12 people at once if he had the candidates.(Provided: Natasha Hayes)

“We had leadership positions filled where they started with our company and traveled to the area to work and they had to leave the position because they were unable to find a place to stay. in their budget,” he said. .

Mr Sheehan said his company paid more than wages and offered bonuses and other incentives, including four-day working weeks, to try to attract staff.

“We probably have some of the best conditions in the area to work for our company, but it’s still a struggle,” he said.

Mr Sheehan said he would like to see government programs that encourage people to return to the workforce, such as continuing to pay benefits to a housing trust for 12 months while also allowing them to earn a salary.

“For me, it’s simple,” he said.

“Let’s get people back to work. »

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