Provider faces labor shortage

Photo By Calmille Grochowsi

Hiring signs have filled windows all throughout the country, due to a labor shortage largely credited to the COVID-19 unemployment relief fund. California Baptist University is not immune to this labor shortage. 

Currently, Provider, the company that manages CBU’s restaurants, is short nearly 200 on-campus employees. Provider employees are working to compensate for this labor shortage, but many lines at dining locations on campus are ranging from 30 minutes to over an hour.

Eric DaCosta, director of Food Services, shared how different the labor is on campus now compared to pre-COVID. On-campus food service issues have stemmed not just from lack of labor, but also the student worker availability.

“When we operate at full capacity, we have about 450 employees,” DaCosta said. “Out of the 450 employees we typically have about 20% that are students. Students usually work on an average of ten hours a week. Currently, we’re at only about 270 employees total and 60% of that are students, so one of the challenges is the availability of students because they have classes during the day.”

Like many other companies throughout the nation, Provider has been offering incentives to gain more applicants. Provider offers perks for both those already on staff and those willing to join.

“We’re holding job fairs, using staffing agencies and we’ve offered referral incentives to current employees,” DaCosta said. “We raised the average wage as much as we can, but we’re still struggling to get applicants through the door and showing up.”

Connor Ryan, sophomore creative writing and journalism and new media double major as well as Brisco’s employee, said that the employees and restaurants are struggling during this time.

“The labor shortage has made it so that several locations are simply unable to open at all,” Ryan said. “For example, The Habit was originally supposed to open on weekdays during the fall semester, but after having a soft opening, they realized that opening The Habit would stretch their manpower too thin and opted to leave it closed. When someone has to call off, it raises a huge issue because there is rarely anybody who is available to pick up someone’s shift.”

Kylie Williams, sophomore environmental science major and El Monte Grill employee, also discussed how the unusual hours have been conflicting with school schedules for her and others. She also shared that, despite what it may look like to a customer, El Monte and other restaurants are doing the best they can.

“The labor shortage has just made hours weird,” Williams said. “I already have a pretty packed class schedule with a lot of homework, but I also work the closing shift four days a week. There are about six of us there at a time, maybe more, serving and doing cash register. This seems like a lot, but there are so many customers we get backed up really easily, even with all hands on deck. While it makes time go faster, it also makes it more stressful and we’re bound to make a few mistakes.”

Although Provider is still short workers, the situation is looking more promising. DaCosta believes that the end of COVID-19 subsidies is going to lead to an increase in applicants and employees.

“Because the government subsidies ended in September, we’re starting to see a little bit more improvement,” DaCosta said. “We’re hoping for an opening for The Habit in October, possibly with limited hours.”

For Provider employment information, please visit https://nowhiring.com/pcfs/.

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