AT LEAST two Halls Gap cafes are limiting trading hours after struggling to find staff.
It has prompted Harvest Cafe co-owner Carly Flecknoe to call for measures to make working in the tourist town more attractive to people.
She made an impassioned plea on social media this week.
Mrs Flecknoe said the cafe closed on Wednesday and would close again next Wednesday, to avoid staff burnout.
"There are two problems when that happens - one of them is the financial implications on the business," she said. "But Livefast Lifestyle Cafe was also closed on Wednesday, which meant all the tourists visiting on school holidays weren't able to be serviced, which can have a flow-on impact on the town's reputation."
Mrs Flecknoe and her husband, cafe co-owner Richard, moved to Halls Gap from Melbourne four years ago to start the business. Mrs Flecknoe said Harvest Cafe had had several positions available for waiters and barista roles for three months, and that finding sufficient staff had been hard work since opening.
"We have had a large rotation of long-term backpackers," she said.
"We've also been looking for an apprentice chef for two years. We have one role where someone is starting soon on a trial basis and another position still available. It's very hard to get anyone to stay here for longer than six months."
Mrs Flecknoe said as tourism in Halls Gap had grown in the past few years, the amount of staff the business needed had also increased.
"There is also a shortage of houses for people to buy and rent," she said.
"Being a tourist destination, a lot of the houses here people live in, use as holiday houses or as accommodation businesses. So people need to be willing to commute from Stawell, Ararat or Horsham to take on the roles."
Mrs Flecknoe said more public transport options could help attract people to work at Halls Gap.
"If you had people who, instead of having to drive at 7 am and (worry about) dodging kangaroos, could get on a bus and regular transport to and from town, it would make it more accessible - especially if you want to employ staff under 18," she said.
Livefast Lifestyle Cafe manager Amber Taylor said the business had to close on Friday, September 27 and Sunday, September 29 - during a long weekend and school holidays - because they did not have enough kitchen staff.
She said the cafe was looking to appoint up to two more front-of-house staff.
"The vacancies don't last very long, and people who used to work here sometimes come back and fill shifts for us. It's just recently over the school holidays and coming up to the warmer weather that we're starting to look for extras because we're so busy," she said.
Ms Taylor said social media helped Livefast find workers.
Marty Schoo, the co-founder of new Halls Gap microbrewery Paper Scissors Rock, shared this sentiment.
"We're lucky at the moment that we have the staff to fill positions - but we're always on the lookout for good staff to set us up for high turnover," he said.
"We use all avenues we can to find staff. It's about finding someone with the right mix of skills. Now is definitely the time to become a chef or barista, that's for sure."
Mr Schoo said the brewery and restaurant employed 15 staff.
Grampians Tourism chief executive Marc Sleeman said recruiting a skilled workforce was an issue common among the region's tourism industry.
"We have accommodation providers that can't let their properties because of lack of cleaning staff, so it extends right through the service industry," he said.
"Housing is also an issue. We need to release some land for future residential development across the Grampians region to encourage new residents moving here."
Mr Sleeman said the organisation was working on a campaign, in conjunction with the City of Ballarat and Sovereign Hill, to help businesses recruit and retain a skilled workforce. He said the draft campaign incorporated training staff within the region.
In the 12 months to March 2019, the Grampians received more than 1.1 million domestic overnight visitors - up by 14.9 per cent on the previous 12-month period.
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