Portugal is a country with more than 10 million inhabitants and there are currently more than five million people who are able to work in the country aged between 15 and 64 years old. In 2013, Portugal reached its highest level of unemployment, with 16,2 percent of the population without a job, now only 6,2 percent of the population does not have a job, leaving entrepreneurs with difficulties in recruitment.

As times go by it is getting harder for entrepreneurs to hire qualified employers to work with them. According to Pessoas by ECO, around 44 percent of Portuguese entrepreneurs are having problems finding the right candidates to fulfil the needs of their business.

AHRESP, the association for hotels, restaurants and similar business in Portugal, stated that more than 80 percent of the restaurants and almost 60 percent of businesses in the tourism sector, were facing difficulties in finding workers. AHRESP said that the problem in hiring new staff in the sector is “still a major obstacle that may negatively influence the national economy and the recovery of the tourism sector.”

The pandemic crisis also affected the tourism sector. The restaurants, bars, and hotels were closed due to mandatory lockdown for a considerable period, pushing people who would usually work in the industry to look for work in other sectors, thus reducing the number of people willing to work in the tourist sector or in a restaurant.

No incentive to work

Noélia is the owner of the restaurant Noélia e Jerónimo in Tavira, she told The Portugal News that finding someone willing to work has been a hard task, especially during the current pandemic situation. She agrees with AHRESP while realising that the pandemic crisis affected the hiring of staff in restaurants. According to Noélia, people are still feeling comfortable being at home, “it feels like people are feeling relaxed due to the unemployment allowance they are getting from the government.” Noélia also believes that people are earning more money from being at home than working in a restaurant, for example.

When questioned if this is a generational problem, Noélia said that problems with hiring are common to all age groups. She added that she also feels many staff are “ungrateful”, adding that “even after paying for lay-off, or for extra hours, the staff always wants more and more, forgetting sometimes that” greater support and help “is being given to them” when compared to those running businesses.

Noélia has attempted to hire employees especially through the internet, however, she has found the hardest task is to find young people willing to work “because teenagers do not want to work.” Noélia said she was 14 years old when she started working in restaurants, to help her parents. In her opinion, “not only do young people not want to work, but also their parents do not want their children working”, almost as if they are “ashamed” of having their kids working in a restaurant, making this an educational and cultural problem, she told The Portugal News.

No experience

On the other hand, one reader told The Portugal News, that she has recently graduated and is finding it hard to find a job for her gap year to then pay for her master’s degree

She started looking for a job right after finishing her degree in two different cities, Coimbra and Covilhã, in Castelo Branco District. Despite delivering several CV’s to retail shops or supermarkets, she was only called to a couple of interviews and got rejected for them all. She told The Portugal News that during the interviews she felt like “the companies put too much pressure on the candidates.” She stated that she found that all businesses and managers “expect that every candidate has years of experience in the sector”, which makes it difficult for young people to find their first job since they have no experience.

Finding a job has never been an easy task, however, the pandemic has made this task even harder. With the easing of many of the lockdown measures, it is hoped that more people will be willing to find a job and help the national economy grow after a long period of lockdown.