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RIHA Column: Looking for a New Career or Part-time Work?

Dale J. Venturini, President and CEO of Rhode Island Hospitality Industry Association.

Dale J. Venturini, President and CEO of Rhode Island Hospitality Industry Association.

Join the Industry of Opportunity.

By Dale Venturini, President & CEO, Rhode Island Hospitality Association

With most of Rhode Island’s COVID-19 restrictions and protocols lifted at the end of May, including its mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals and capacity limitations for businesses, the hospitality industry finds itself in prime position to begin the path toward recovery just in time for the busy summer season.

With vaccines readily available and more than 50% of Rhode Islanders already fully vaccinated, we are now in a position to fulfill pent-up consumer demand while continuing to follow best practices to keep our patrons and staff safe and healthy. While our industry is embracing this long-awaited return to normal, many operators are still facing one important challenge: staffing.

Many of our restaurants, hotels and industry partners are experiencing extreme difficulty in finding enough staff to meet the needs of our state’s rejuvenated consumer demand. Many of our industry’s workers are choosing to stay home or take different types of jobs for a variety of reasons. From the still very real concern about COVID-19 and workplace safety to continuing federal and state unemployment benefits, limited access to child care and the fear of the industry once again being targeted by government restrictions, many individuals are still hesitant to seek work in hospitality right now.

Unfortunately, as long as the worker shortage persists, our industry will be slow to fully recover. But there is action being taken. Rhode Island’s recently enacted workforce legislation allows those receiving unemployment benefits to get back to work and earn up to 150% of their unemployment insurance benefit amount before they are no longer eligible for unemployment.

This legislation incentivizes workers to seek employment, as some of their unemployment benefits are now protected. However, as of May 23, a “search for work” requirement has gone into effect, which requires those collecting unemployment benefits to prove that they are actively searching for work and that they are not turning down offers for employment.

To provide assistance to both job seekers and employers alike, the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) recently launched the “Rhode Island Hospitality Jobs” website, rihospitalityjobs.org, a convenient resource for our members to post job openings and for job seekers to easily identify local opportunities in the industry through the use of a simple search tool.

For employers, the website also offers additional resources to help recruitment efforts, including: insight into what today’s employees are looking for, advice on how to attract millennial and Gen Z workers, and tips on how to write an attractive and effective job posting. For anyone looking for work in the industry, this tool will easily identify and filter open jobs based on search preferences, qualifications and availability.

For those actively seeking work in Rhode Island, I can assure you that the hospitality sector is the state’s industry of opportunity. There are many benefits to seeking a career in hospitality, from flexible hours and great pay to on-the-job training, opportunities to advance and much more.

If safety is your concern, please consider the fact that our industry was far and away the most heavily regulated throughout the course of the pandemic, and our operators and existing staff have not only been rigorously trained to implement the best health and safety practices, but that they take their responsibilities very seriously.

Whether you have experience working at restaurants or hotels or are completely new to the industry, there is a place that is just right for you and RIHA is here to help you find it. After all, in Rhode Island, hospitality matters!

Dale J. Venturini is the President & CEO of Rhode Island Hospitality Association. A veteran of more than 25 years in the hospitality industry, Venturini is considered by many to be the voice of the industry in the state of Rhode Island. She has been instrumental in improving the industry’s educational and training programs in the state, as well as enhancing the bottom line of the business she represents. Venturini splits her time between the office and the State House, a constant presence for her membership.

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