AMS struggles to find kitchen staff amid labor shortages across Canada

The AMS struggles to find employees to work at its many campus companies, and the global economy could be responsible.

Employment at the AMS has fallen significantly. An online job bank is seeking employees for multiple companies, including the Gallery, Blue Chip Cafe, and Grand Noodle Emporium. There are almost 40 vacancies, the majority of which are for kitchen staff.

“We cannot fill cooking positions with…part-time student position[s] where they work maybe six hours a week, we need full-time chefs to support the food service,” said AMS Senior Marketing and Communications Manager Eric Lowe. “So you have a shortage in the kitchen.”

Lowe believes this lack of kitchen staff is responsible for the Gallery’s recent decision to shorten opening hours, as well as the inability for Pi R Squared to reopen.

Lowe also believes that AMS’s workforce shortage is a product of the greater labor shortage affecting companies across the continent. In a recent study by the Business Development Bank of Canada, 64 percent of responding small business owners said their growth was limited by a lack of labor.

According to Dr. Mark Thompson, professor emeritus at the Sauder School of Business, this may be a result of people having time to rethink their future during the pandemic.

“For some of these jobs, that money wasn’t that great… so they’re like, ‘Do I really want this?’” Thompson said. “They move on, they go back to school or they go do something else.”

According to Lowe, the AMS has no trouble finding students for work. There is a need for full-time employees who have already graduated and entered the labor market. With so many jobs near Vancouver, the student body competes directly with the rest of the local hospitality industry.

While the AMS offers competitive wages with some local restaurants, most hotels and restaurants in more central parts of the city can often provide better wages and better industrial connections. Lowe also cited UBC’s distance from the rest of the city as a factor that kept many applicants from choosing AMS positions.

“We actually have a lot of interviews coming in, but eventually they seem to be accepting positions elsewhere,” he said.

Neither Thompson nor Lowe could predict whether the situation would improve in the near term. According to Lowe, the AMS has stepped up its recruitment process, looking for culinary school graduates seeking work experience, as well as recent immigrants to Canada.

Lowe believes that the AMS has created a work culture strong enough that employment will eventually increase.

“It’s not your typical Gordon Ramsay kitchen where you imagine someone yelling at you all the time,” he said. “We’ve really created a fun culture here for our cooking staff.”

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