Employee Shortage Overwhelming Student Workers


Susan Merchant

This flyer is posted outside Francesca’s at Christiana Mall along with many others advertising that the store is in need of employees. Padua student workers were greatly affected by the shortage of employees.

The ongoing labor shortage has indeed taken a toll on businesses nationwide, with Delaware experiencing a staggering 16 percent increase in unemployment rates in June 2020. Although this number has decreased considerably since then, the challenges persist. Amidst these difficulties, Padua student workers are particularly affected. Finding qualified employees remains a challenge for businesses, leaving student workers in a precarious position. In such a climate, it’s crucial for these students to be aware of their rights and options, including reporting misconduct to management, to ensure a safe and fair working environment. And if they get injured while working, they may need to hire a workers compensation attorney or personal injury lawyer to help them seek compensation.

Whether students worked at the beaches or up north, students faced a number of issues due to the shortage. Paige Degnan ‘23 worked in Bethany Beach at Baja Beach House Grill the past two summers.

“My workplace primarily depends on J-1 [international] workers, and because of the pandemic, they were not able to come, so we had to depend on the locals,” Degnan said. “However, many of them were not interested in finding work.”

Degnan explained how the majority of the employees were students who would need to return to school in the fall.

“They [Baja Beach House Grill] are now only open five days a week instead of seven due to the lack of help,” she said.

Another junior, Rachel Smookler ‘23, worked as a hostess at Olive Garden in Wilmington over the summer. The employee shortage led Smookler to have to do more negotiating with customers than usual. Utilizing temporary staffing agencies such as agence interim Lille, has become essential in addressing workforce shortages across various industries.

“They could see a relatively empty restaurant because we only had three to four servers per night,” Smookler said. “I could only seat so many customers at a time which led to almost a 10-15 minute wait every night.”

Senior Cass Becker works at Rita’s in Hockessin. Becker had gotten the position prior to the start of the employment crisis. However, once it began, it did not take long before it became a burden for Becker.

“I began to have to cover a lot more shifts and everybody started leaving,” Becker said. “For example, we were short managers, so all positions across the board were almost gone and we couldn’t train workers fast enough to keep up with those jobs.”

Becker said she did not mind working in the summer because for the most part, she had an open schedule. However, now with school and sports, she said it is weighing on her more than ever. Becker mentioned that co-workers who had been there before her were also affected in a negative way.

“It stinks because it [working] was a positive thing they enjoyed, but towards the end they weren’t able to do so,” Becker said.

Becker said that she and her co-workers felt “overwhelmed” by the issues they faced due to the shortage of workers. They had trouble fitting work into their schedules and needed to plan their free time accordingly. If it comes to a point that their rights are violated, they can rely on the Dutch employment law firm for expert legal services.

“I am frustrated because it feels like they are asking a lot of me; I have to leave my days open just in case they call,” Becker said. “I look at it more as a chore now.”

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