The country and the world have been undergoing major changes and this is very evident for anyone looking to hire or looking to work in the hotel industry.
The impressive growth that the tourism sector has been experiencing in our country requires not only an extraordinary reinforcement of the workforce, but also a review of the conditions offered to professionals. After all, the market (sometimes) works both ways.
Portugal has been receiving migrants from different parts of the globe, in search of a better life and, of course, work. And the truth is that there is a lack of manpower to work in the hotel industry. At least that’s what most agents in the sector claim.
The problem is that a logic of low wages still prevails, as well as a series of other obstacles that continue to make the process of recruiting labor difficult. But the hospitality industry will continue to grow.
Hospitality: current state of the sector
One of the sectors most affected by the pandemic, inflation and other factors that hinder tourism and consumption, the hotel industry is still recovering and adapting to the many demands and challenges of recent times.
However, the optimism and the search for new strategies show the will of those who continue to work in the hospitality industry to do more and better.
Hiring in advance, still months away from the peak tourist season, seems to have become a strategy for hotel companies.
The challenge of responding to summer needs is nothing new, but the difficulty is becoming more acute. Despite the fact that tourism assumes special prominence in Portugal, the truth is that there is (a lot) a lack of human resources in this business area.
According to government figures, there is a shortage of around 50,000 workers in the sector.
Thus, in an attempt to ensure that there are enough people working in the hospitality industry when they are most needed, it is necessary to hire in advance.
A large group strategy
Booking in advance is already part of the strategy of some important groups in the national hotel industry.
For example, the Tivoli Hotels & Resorts hotels, from the Thai Minor group, with 16 units in Portugal, have been hiring since January, with the aim of filling 500 vacancies. The majority (300) are destined for the Algarve region for a new hotel opening in March, the Tivoli Alvor Algarve Resort.
United Investments Portugal (UIP), which owns the Pine Cliffs Resort, the Sheraton Cascais or the Hyatt Regency Lisboa, also intends to hire 385 professionals, most of which are seasonal, although some are for immediate entry and continuity.
An increase in the resources needed compared to 2022, justified by the optimistic perspectives, but also by a greater offer.
Unlock Boutique Hotéis (UBH), with new openings for 2023, expects to reach record numbers. For this, the boutique hotel group needs to fill 100 job vacancies in operational areas.
A mission made difficult by factors such as very low training and motivation for positions such as bar, kitchen, catering or housekeeping.
Hospitality: main difficulties
Those responsible for the sector recognize the constant challenge with regard to hiring professionals to work in the hotel industry. There are some factors that justify it, such as:
- long hours of work
- low wages
- some unattractive features
- difficulty combining work and family life
- lack of career prospects
- weak valuation and recognition of professions.
Such difficulties bring new challenges, new strategies and other demands.
One of the major problems pointed out in the hotel industry is related to the very low wages in some functions.
However, some hotels do not agree and even guarantee that they are already paying above the national minimum wage (SMN), fixed at 760 euros, in 2023.
Pestana and Vila Galé, the two largest hotel groups in the country, are an example of this policy. Pestana, with more than 100 units, will increase the base salary of its workers by 15% in relation to the SMN, until the end of the first quarter of 2023. Last year, it had already implemented a minimum monthly remuneration of 750 euros.
In turn, Vila Galé, in second place in the national ranking of the largest hotel companies, increases employee income by 11% and sets a minimum wage of 900 euros per month.
New conditions: less taxes and more immigration
In a year when other factors weigh on the bill, such as inflation and the consequent loss of purchases, hotel managers warn of the tax burden.
Lowering payroll taxes is a way to increase net wages, which is important for workers as well as for companies. This is a wish, and a request to the Government, shared by several managers of the national hotel industry. This is also a measure that they consider essential to increase competitiveness.
But, in addition to the change in taxes, it is essential to make the entry of immigrants into the labor market more flexible, a way of reducing the problem of lack of resources.
Foreign hiring programs
United Investments Portugal (UIP) currently has programs under development to recruit abroad for seasonal positions. To the offers available can be consulted online.
The integration of workers of other nationalities is also a practice at PortoBay, which believes it is essential that “Portugal accept more immigrants, whether for the tourism sector or for others”.
An industry open to the world
The hotel sector is, by nature, open to all people who seek its services, national or from any part of the globe. Thus, different nationalities are considered with regard to the workforce, according to the area of the country and target audiences.
Several hotel groups have had employees of other nationalities for a long time, especially seasonally, but also on staff, in different positions.
In a current context of increasing number of migrants from different points, mainly Europe, it becomes urgent to simplify procedures legal rights of residents in Portugal, so that they can enjoy fair and dignified working conditions.