A growing number of Maitland businesses are starting to feel the strain of the chronic labour shortage that has gripped the country.
Employers are starting to take extreme measures to lure people into jobs but the prospect of earning more money staying at home is more appealing to most.
Maitland Business Chamber president Shane Hamilton said he is hearing of more local business operators crying out for staff - some offering higher pay rates and more flexible working conditions but to no avail.
Also in the news:
Others, he said, are overhauling their business models, operating differently and as a result becoming more effective with the workforce they have on the ground.
"This is affecting a wide range of businesses, from hospitality to law," Mr Hamilton said
"Business owners and current staff are doing long hours to meet demand - some re-evaluating how they do business, investing in automation and changing how the business interacts with their customers. For example some are thriving with online stores others (in the hospitality industry) are closing seated areas and moving to a takeaway model.
"The idea behind this is that business owners can manage their customers without the added labour. We have a lot of smart and innovative business owners here who continue to show the determination and the 'can do attitude' Maitland is famous for."
He said many Maitland industries have been hit by the labour shortage. "Retail, restaurants, pubs/clubs seem to be largely affected but all sectors including law, accounting, technology and manufacturing are experiencing labour shortages and high business demand."
And employers are pulling out all stops in a bid to attract people into jobs. "I heard of very large incentives like bonuses or free accommodation to name a few," Mr Hamilton said.
Paterson MP Meryl Swanson said because of the government's 'poor handling' of the vaccine rollout and support payments there are staffing issues across the region. This is coupled with the fear of COVID still in the community has not helped.
"The Hunter has had substantial TAFE cuts, and now we have sizable skills shortages and a decline in apprenticeships," she said.
Mr Hamilton said business owners have said they can't get staff because some can make more money staying at home.
He said the Federal Government needed to rein in stay at home payment incentives or flip the benefits to support wage subsidies.
Mr Hamilton said the chamber had lobbied all levels of government with a list of seven projects that will move Maitland forward, luring workers to settle here.
- Do you know you can subscribe to get full access to all Maitland Mercury stories? Subscribing supports us in our local news coverage. To subscribe, click here.