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More restaurant jobs than workers, a Rock Hill group to bring both back to the table

The Herald (Rock Hill, SC) logo The Herald (Rock Hill, SC) 5/14/2021 John Marks, The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)

May 14—ROCK HILL — Rock Hill

Hospitality isn't just a Southern cultural concept. It's also an industry. Like so many others, it's an industry that's faced upheaval throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now some in Rock Hill want to bring business owners and would-be workers to the table again.

"This job fair is the chance for people who work in the industry to come see the area's top employers all in one place and see a wide variety of job offerings," said 742 North co-working manager Frank McCollum. "The environment is much more laid back and accessible than the typical job search process."

Several businesses will host an event at 742 N. Anderson Road from 1 to 4 p.m. May 17. Local employers will be there with information on jobs. Panel discussions will cover topics in the restaurant and hotel industries, from interviewing and cross training to the future of pay in restaurants.

Participants will have close to a dozen hospitality businesses looking to hire.

"The hiring environment for the food and hospitality sector is frankly unprecedented," McCollum said. "It's definitely a job-seeker's market right now with employers offering higher wages, extra benefits and signing bonuses. There just are not enough candidates seeking work even though businesses are attempting to re-open after being shut down or running at diminished capacity for over 12 months."

Brianna Francis with Visit York County said the job fair can help connect people to make the area hospitality industry stronger.

"We're seeing our restaurants really struggle with workforce right as the public is feeling comfortable returning to restaurants," she said. "Job fairs like the one being held at 742 North absolutely helps to connect our employers with potential workers."

Visit York County has worked with Jobs Rock Hill and other groups to list attraction, hotel and restaurant positions. SC Works and the state workforce department have their own job fair for hospitality on May 20, that Visit York County will promote. That 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. event is the first industry-specific statewide virtual hiring event hosted by SC Works.

Restaurants are doing their part to attract workers, too.

"We've seen restaurants getting really unique with their incentives, including $250 signing bonuses you can obtain after 30 or 60 days on the job," Francis said. "I think this shines a light on how desperate restaurants are for help right now."

Federal labor statistics from third quarter 2020 show about 11,800 leisure and hospitality jobs in York County at that time. The figure is down 11% compared to the year prior. Now hospitality jobs in York County are "closer to what we'd think of as normal" compared to national and state figures, Francis said.

The 742 North job event will partner with known local businesses. Participants include US Foods, Super Icy Brothers, Forte Legato, Texas Roadhouse, The Improper Pig, Amelie's, Nature's Table, The Ballantyne, Old Town Kitchen and Cocktails, Empire Pizza and Golden Corral.

McCollum advises job-seekers to print out several copies of resumes or business cards for the event.

"There will be a variety of front of house and back of house positions such as waitress, hostess, general manager and sous chef," McCollum said. "We have hotels both from the luxury market and limited service offerings as well, and those jobs range from front desk work to event planning and even a masseuse position."

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