Every week we comb through the news to find employment trends affecting the hospitality industry so you don’t have to. This week’s Hospitality in the News topic: why upskilling will help solve the restaurant staff shortage.

What’s up with the restaurant staff shortage?

For 24 straight months bars and restaurants added jobs to the labor market, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With unemployment hovering around 3.5% in the U.S., many are wondering where these workers will be found – especially considering the hospitality sector has been dealing with the restaurant staff shortage since businesses reopened during the pandemic.  

Whether you tap into a pool of gig workers or utilize your own in-house staff, one way to help curb the restaurant staff shortage is to give workers what they want. And what workers want is flexibility, appropriate pay, and the ability to grow. Fortunately, the hospitality sector often provides flexibility and pay rates have increased over the last year. Taking this a step further, new information shows continued training through upskilling sets employers apart when candidates are deciding who to work for.  

When workers know you’re willing to upskill them, it shows your investment in their professional lives in and outside your organization. You’re willing to put the time and effort into what it takes to make them a better, more well-rounded employee. And that’s beneficial for everyone.  

Here are two suggestions for upskilling restaurant hospitality workers to help curb the restaurant staff shortage: 

Cross training 

Consider ways to maximize the skills and talents your team has. Ask workers about their past experiences at other jobs and what they like to do. Perhaps there’s a current gap in your team and an employee likes doing whatever that position entails. Maybe they even have experience in that area. Create a plan to get that worker more exposure to those positions to help the team overall.  

If there’s an interest in a position on your team, during slower times in business let a worker shadow an employee in different areas to learn about a new position. Consider providing resources for learning about other areas of the business, whether it be through articles, videos, or training materials. Can a hostess become a server? Can a server become a bartender? Apply these types of questions across multiple positions. And don’t forget that hourly staff can be great candidates for supervisor and management positions as well.  


If you have an employee or a temporary staff member that shows promise, suggest ongoing learning via certifications. For example, BASSET is a bartender’s certification, OSHA offers safety programs, and there are ServSafe food courses. Can your business offer compensation upon completion (to offset the costs employees may pay for the certification) to support the team member’s desire to expand their skills? Plus, workers are proven to appreciate praise and feedback. Ongoing learning suggestions such as this from leaders who see their potential can go a long way. 

Hiring and retraining can cost a business thousands of dollars. Having the ability to keep a consistent team saves money, builds cohesion, and can curb the restaurant staff shortage. Whether you’re a major employer with many restaurants or an independent restauranteur, meaningful training sets your business apart.