Restaurants and hotels lacking employees

The Association of Hotels and Restaurants of Latvia (LVRA) thinks that the tourism sector is lacking professionals. It's estimated that tourism constitutes about 4% of Latvia's GDP. 

Despite the importance of the industry, the absence of skilled hands is one of the main problems tourism faces, reported the Latvian Radio 4 program The Dome Square on Wednesday.

SS.lv, the Latvian equivalent to Craigslist, shows vacancies for 309 cooks, 191 waiters and 130 receptionists, including those in hotels. According to Santa Graikste, the executive director of the LVRA, many apply for vacancies in this sector without the necessary education.

"Many of those who graduate from professional and higher education institutions depart to work abroad. On the one hand, it's good – they acquire experience. On the other hand, it'd be great if they'd return and embark on their career in Latvia. Regrettably, that's often not the case," said Graikste.

According to her, the professionals in demand in the tourism sector are pastry chefs, cooks and hotel management specialists.

Professional schools and higher education institutions prepare professionals in the tourism and hotel sector – one of the main of them is the Turība Business school.

"First of all, there are more and more hotels and guest houses – which in turn means increased demand for specialists. Secondly, many young people go abroad, where they did internships before, where they can earn more than in Latvia. And another part of the graduates works in different industries," said Daina Vinklere, dean deputy of the international tourism faculty at the Turība university.

Even though unemployment in Latvia sat at 9.7% in mid-year, the restaurant Tēvocis Vaņa in Old Rīga has trouble finding employees. Aleksejs Krūmiņš said that there are many young people who apply, with graduate diplomas and without them, but they ask for disproportionate wages.

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