Local efforts to drum up candidates for hospitality jobs will continue Tuesday with a neighborhood-specific job fair featuring Mount Pleasant hotels and restaurants.
The Courtyard Marriott in Mount Pleasant, Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina, Old Village Post House Inn, Hotel Indigo and Wild Dunes Resort will meet with job-seekers at the fair. Restaurants SOL Southwest Kitchen, Verde and others will be seeking candidates for immediate openings in both full- and part-time positions.
The fair will be hosted at the Staybridge Suites in Mount Pleasant, which will also be looking for job candidates. The 108-room hotel opened over the summer.
This will be the eighth neighborhood job fair hosted by Explore Charleston, which markets and supports the area’s visitor industry. The fairs are hosted in partnership with the Charleston Area Hospitality Association and the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association.
They started just over a year ago as part of the bureau's effort to help local hotels and restaurants address their growing need for workers. Facing a tight labor market — employment in the Charleston region continues to be the lowest in the state, now at 2.8 percent — keeping hospitality positions filled in a market that welcomes more visitors every year has been difficult.
"It's a buyer's market right now," said Nicole Leaf, recruiting manager at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, at the bureau’s October job fair which was hosted at the Cigar Factory on the Charleston peninsula. The resort was looking to hire for about 100 positions, Leaf said, with more expected as the resort plans its "Kiawah 2.0" expansion.
The neighborhood-specific fairs are meant to connect residents with openings that are close to where they live. This will be the second neighborhood fair hosted in Mount Pleasant. Fairs have also been held in North Charleston, West Ashley and downtown.
In the program’s first two years, 134 people have been placed in local hospitality jobs, according the bureau. Those placements come from job fairs, partnerships with local organizations and other recruiting efforts. Member businesses also have access to a web portal where they can view hundreds of resumes from potential candidates.
Recruitment is one piece of the bureau’s workforce development initiative, which also includes efforts to improve retention and address concerns for workers such as parking and transportation, affordable housing and wages.
Annually, there are about 200 to 250 more hospitality jobs than qualified local graduates, according to an updated Talent Demand Study from the Charleston Metro Chamber and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance.
Many of the skills for hospitality jobs come from on-the-job training, but more recruitment into existing training programs could help fill positions for high-end servers, chefs and hospitality management, according to the report.