It has been less than a month since the Martinmas semester began, and with most students returning to live and study in St Andrews, the need for residential University staff came with them. But labour shortages have stricken the town - just as they have many UK sectors - and it has becom- ing an increasingly pressing issue. The University as a whole is facing labour shortages, but catering has been hit the hardest. Anecdotally, some students have noticed a reduced number of staff working in Halls during mealtimes, while others - in some University residences - have had their catering changed entirely. According to the University Press Office, several members of staff have left their positions or retired in the last 18 months. While it is unclear just how many vacancies there are, it is enough to be felt by both the students and staff themselves in St Andrews. This issue is not specific to St Andrews, however. The hospitality industry in the United Kingdom is facing worker shortages and vacancies higher than ever, according to the BBC.
“Industry bodies say one in five workers have left the sector during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Michael Race earlier this year. University staff are also not alone in this issue, with many local St Andrews businesses also left with unprecedented vacancies. While there is no clear solution to the ongoing and nationwide labour shortages, according to the University Press Office, the administration has implemented an “intensive recruitment drive.” The goal of which is to fill up such vacancies and allow for the staffing levels to return to what they were before the COVID-19 pandemic that sent most staff and students home last semester.
According to the Press Of- fice, students in the affected halls have received the statements explaining the staff shortages.
Students in Andrew Melville Hall, Agnes Blackadder Hall, St Salvator’s Hall, and Deans Court received emails with the opening line, “Regrettably due to operational challenges and severe staff shortages, we will be making a temporary change to the way you are catered for within your halls of residence.”
Short term measures have been necessary in such halls to keep the catering services running smoothly, such as consolidating staff. All students in Andrew Melville will be “temporarily” catered in Agnes Blackadder for the 19 meals they are served each week.
The change will also reduce social spaces in the latter, and the University is working to accommodate that going forward. Students in Deans Court have also had to face changes, with their catering moved to St Salvator’s for the time being. Throughout this, the University seems to be taking the necessary measures.
“We ask for patience while we are addressing this and we are looking at different solutions to help resolve this current shortage as quickly as we can,” the Press Of- fice revealed to The Saint this week.