According to recent figures released by the National Restaurant Association, “79 percent of restaurant operators have job openings that are tough to fill.”
A recent release from the Association advocates for the Essential Workers for Economic Advancement, saying that “people are the restaurant industry’s greatest asset…” and, “… our workforce is more diverse than any other sector in the economy.”
Stating, “The EWEA would expand the workforce for occupations that provide growth opportunities without a college degree,” the National Restaurant Association added, “This non-immigrant temporary worker program would help restaurants fill job vacancies and provide employees with valuable training, experience, and a career path.”
In explaining the mechanics of the program, the Association said the EWEA “would connect prospective workers with employers, both of whom must meet participation requirements.”
Once the employer has been approved, the Association said, “a prospective EWEA employee would be matched for a specific position and location.”
Moreover, “EWEA employees have the ability to move between qualifying positions available at EWEA employers and the potential to advance with growth and training. EWEA employers and employees must participate in employment verification through E-Verify… [and] EWEA employers must prove that the position has remained unfilled for a set period of time and that no equally or better qualified U.S. worker who applied is ready, willing, and able to fill the position.” Currently there are some 15 million workers in nearly 1 million establishments, the Association said.
“The foodservice industry is the nation’s second-largest private sector employer, [and] 79 percent of restaurant operators have job openings that are tough to fill, according to the Association’s 2023 State of the Restaurant Industry report,” the Association continued. “Additionally, 62 percent of operators say their restaurant does not have enough employees to support its existing customer demand, according to Association research from November 2022.”
The Association went on to say that although “there’s no silver bullet to solve this challenge, more people and workforce opportunities are critical to supporting the restaurant industry’s and nation’s economic growth.
The Association said the proposed EWEA is well-designed to work for restaurants, noting that the restaurant industry is “one of the nation’s leading trainers, equipping employees with business acumen, leadership abilities and communication skills that are highly transferrable and sought by other industries.”
The EWEA program allots 25 percent of employees for businesses like restaurants that nationally promote recognized employee safety and health programs, hire workers under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, or WOTC, or have comparatively low sales per employee.
“While that figure might appear small, the contributions that employees make will be significant,” the Association said. “EWEA employees will help grow the restaurant industry’s economic impact and acquire skills that can be utilized throughout their career.”
The Association concluded, “The restaurant industry urges Congress to advance and pass the Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act.”