Sean Gravina, the Head Chef and Owner of popular San Giljan Crust Deli Bakery, has issued a dramatic warning against the “disastrous” staffing outlook for Malta’s catering establishments, saying that an oversaturation of restaurants and snack bars in the country has created unsustainable demand for staff.
Taking to social media to ask how the hospitality, as well as the wider tourism industry in Malta is supposed to attract quality tourists, he claims that “without the right amount of personnel in Malta”, then the quality of catering establishments is going to diminish.
The situation is so severe, he says, that “a lot of restaurants a choosing to close for a couple of days a week”, which is especially damaging for companies, particularly those in “up market rental areas” where landlords won’t provide wriggle room.
The causes for the staff shortage are not due to low wages, he insists, stating anecdotally that the wages he has been hearing of have been “pretty decent”, and that “there are plenty… of restaurants offering a decent package”.
A major issue, rather, is the pure volume of restaurants and snack bars in Malta, which are spreading the country’s labour force too thin, he claims, characterising the amount of these establishments as “exaggerated”.
Issuing a harsh warning of the prospects facing the catering industry if something doesn’t change, he says: “We need to think long term, as for now we are ‘fine’ but if restaurants and snack bars keep on opening and the personnel keep on decreasing we are going to have the ‘catering industry collapse’.”
With an undersupply but overdemand for staff, he says, “wages will skyrocket up” and to meet this prices will also have to increase to be sustainable.
Chef Gravina’s comments come as the catering industry, battered during the pandemic, has faced a dire labour shortage when reopening, finding that many the foreign workers they previously relied on have either left the country or the industry.