This has been a challenging year with another series of lockdowns, stop and starts and staff shortages. Thankfully pizzerias as a whole seem to have survived and those that did takeaways have for the most part done well.
We have seen a lot of resilience, quick thinking, adaptation and innovation in our industry. Great entrepreneurs thrive in this sort of environment. Well, they have to, as the only other alternative is closing down! Pizza in the box and DIY pizza kit are the best examples of finding new avenues for your business.
Unfortunately one of the main headlines in the news has been the shortage of staff. Some places had to close for a few days, some had to drop lunch service or close for an extra day during the week, and some others, often in more remotes parts of the country, unfortunately had to close for good.
This situation has forced employers to improve working conditions and pay packets to meet workers demands. Candidates are now asking for better pay as well as better work life balance and flexibility.
Again entrepreneurs had to adapt and for the most part have done so. We have seen pledges on work conditions being now part of job ads or being featured on restaurants websites. Mental wellness is definitely more prominent too. Benefits have increase both in numbers and in scope. The old “28 holidays and company pension scheme” (which in reality are required by law) no longer cut it. Whereas a paid day off for your birthday or to volunteer for a charity are welcome new entries.
So what can we expect next?
With this labour shortage around us, we still think there will be more standardisation and automation. Pizzerias that want to offer high-quality and labour intense styles like pizza contemopranea will only be able to attract top talent by offering big bucks and enticing bonuses. Only pizza chef-owners will be able to open a pizzeria on a shoestring. New business plans, next to their financial forecasts, will have to include how to find pizza chefs!
We have heard from several key people of their intention of setting up a pizza school, and we’ll definitely see more of those in 2022.
The key to the future is to figure out how to attract more young people. This will require an industry wide approach, more schools, new NVQs, new apprenticeships and more employers willing to have apprentices. For the pizza sector in particular, we need a coherent message that explains how being a pizzaiolo entails more than just mixing water, flour, yeast and salt, how this professional figure has evolved, the skills it now requires (technical knowledge, study, experimentation along with people management, cost control, budgeting, menu creation to cite a few) and the career opportunities it offers.
To a better 2022!