Attracting young people to hospitality during the summer months is a common practice. However, restaurant owners surveyed by Latvian Radio acknowledged that there is no interest on the part of young people. Moreover, those who apply for work are not always prepared to work and withstand the workload.
“They [young people] fill in about 20-30% of the number of employees I need in the summers,” said Endijs Bērziņš, chef and co-owner of the restaurant network Vairāk Saules. "We love our children too much and don't make them work and earn their own livelihood. With those who come, there is a feeling that it is coercive, there is no motivation, because they don't have to pay for an apartment or buy anything. If everything is secured and the parents want a young person to work, then they come and drag their feet. That's the reality. "
There are also young people who are motivated to work, but in the minority.
Pay isn't a strong enough incentive to seek a job in hospitality in the summer. Berzins said one can earn around €70 a day in a restaurant including tips (€35-40 a day in salary).
“If, at 18 to 19 years of age, such an amount per day can be earned, it seems to me to be a terrific kick-off. If you don't really want it, then it's a question how much pocket money do we give our children if they think it is too little?” asked the restaurant owner rhetorically.
Asked whether the lack of Russian knowledge is an obstacle for young people to work in a restaurant, Bērziņš said it was not a mandatory requirement.
“Not required, but it's desirable. [..] We also have a lot of Ukrainian girls who are speaking Latvian now,” said Bērziņš.
The chef and co-owner of the restaurant "36. līnija" Lauris Aleksejevs agreed that Russian language is not an obstacle.
"Young people under 18 often don't have direct contact with customers. No matter where they come from. In particular, young people cannot bring alcohol to the customer, so communication is not in any language, but any knowledge of the language is, of course, a plus. They have a lot of functions that need to be done: to sweep the floor, to clean up, to wipe the tables. There's always something to do,” said Aleksejevs.
National legislation also lays down strict rules on youth employment, said Aleksejevs.
"Today's national legislation does not allow a young person to be taken as an apprentice and not pay them anything. Even though the parents ask and say that they don't need payment [..] I can't do it. There are further restrictions on young people up to 15 years old. Namely, a four-hour working day. I have to admit that one can't really do anything in four hours,” the chef said.
Asked whether the employment of young people constitutes a notable support for experienced workers, Aleksejevs replied:
“Effectiveness is very diverse and by employing 20-30% young people in the summer, I can say that it is a step towards parents so that their offspring do not mope around, but come and maybe make something of themselves. There are very many positive and good examples where young people have grown into serious and decent people and employees.”
Also Māris Kreilis, owner of the Andalūzijas Suns restaurant, said that in the summers, young people are invited to work not only because the amount of work is increasing significantly, but the lack of workforce is a big problem.
"Restaurants and bars are in a very tough situation right now because of the disastrous lack of a skilled workforce. There is not even a question of pay or motivation at the moment, but there are no employees physically. This is why we are also attracting the labor force from both Ukraine and other countries that have now received work permits. We're working with these employees,” Kreilis said.
His restaurant employs young people as assistants to waiters.
“We call them runners, they make work easier. They are the ones who help waiters, but unfortunately they can't be attached to the kitchen. The work is heavy and not easy, as well as the short hours they are allowed to work [are not enough]. They don't last long. A large part comes with the idea of working for a month, but they hold for a week, and then they disappear,” Kreilis said.