An Aberdeen bar is hoping to encourage young people to get the coronavirus vaccine by offering jobs along with jabs.
Signature Group, which runs Paramount along with Nox nightclub, has teamed up with NHS Grampian to “kill two birds with one stone”.
In a special drop-in recruitment event today, young people can apply for various positions at the late-night venue while NHS staff are available to give them a jab.
Since it reopened its doors to customers in August, the bar has struggled to get new staff on board due to significant shortages in the hospitality industry.
The event is the first of three recruitment events being held this week, with two more taking place in Edinburgh and Glasgow, as the company strives to fill around 110 positions across their 24 venues in Scotland.
Nic Wood who runs Signature Group and is spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group believes this initiative will help both ends.
Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, he said: “If you want to turn up at Paramount this afternoon between 1pm-6pm, we can chat with you about a job, about hospitality and what incredible career we can make out of that.
“And on top of that, we can offer you a jab – first or second dose – courtesy of NHS Grampian.
“We would happily do the same in other cities and have approached other health authorities, as we have recruitments events in Glasgow and Edinburgh as well.
“The ones that managed to get back to us and have agreed to do it were NHS Grampian, so that’s the one we decided to start the ball rolling with.
“We’ve put a lot of time getting this together – we’ve got mixologist, chefs, waiters and bar staff all coming along to chat with them about what the opportunities are with hospitality, so hopefully we can encourage some young people to come and join our team.”
Mr Wood continued that although having both doses of the vaccine won’t secure young people a job at their venues, it would “certainly make life easier for everybody”.
As the furlough scheme is to last until the end of September, the company’s business development director Louise McQueen thinks many could struggle going forward without that safety net.
She said: “Furlough ends in three weeks and after that, if you’re pinned as a close contact and you haven’t been vaccinated, you’re going to need to self-isolate for ten days without being paid furlough.
“That’s, first of all, really going to hurt the employee, and then if we have to close the business, it will hurt the business as well.
“But there is also the moral compass. We are not dictating to anyone to get vaccinated, but just trying to make them aware that they will have better freedoms, it would appear, if they are and point out the reasons why we think vaccination is a good thing.”
‘The worst recruitment crisis in living memory’
The special recruitment event comes as bosses at Scotland’s top pubs, hotels and restaurants said they are facing “the worst recruitment crisis in living memory”.
Staff shortages in hospitality have caused for many venues across the country – including Nox – not to reopen despite the easing of restrictions.
Although the impact of Covid has spread across all industries, the hospitality sector has been said to be hit the worst with it being “repeatedly thrown under the bus”.
As the recruitment calamity reaches fever-pitch, bosses have also disclosed that they are having to self-impose lockdowns at their top venues, opening fewer days during the week and reducing opening hours to prevent staff burnout.
However, Mrs McQueen thinks that Brexit has also played a vital part in the decline of new recruitment in hospitality as the country is no longer attractive for European workforce.
She added: “We still have six venues closed and we can’t open them, because we physically don’t have enough staff in the business.
“In our venues, we have staff shortage of around 110 vacancies, but in the Scottish Hospitality Group, which Signature sits, we’ve got 500.
“We’ve lost many people to other industries, but Brexit as well is a contributing factor to this.
“We have long relied on Europeans to be front and back staff and I think Britain isn’t that attractive a place for Europeans these days.
“I think we need both the Scottish Government and Westminster to get their heads together and start chatting about how we get more people to come work in Scotland without any barriers.”