With industry-wide labor shortages, recruitment challenges, and other hurdles placing a strain on the foodservice sector, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) is applauding the Essential Workers for Economic Advancement (EWEA) program. Through the plan, restaurant owners and operators could feel some relief from ongoing issues and begin to recover.
“There is no silver bullet to solving the industry’s recruitment challenge, but this program creates one opportunity to address the issue,” said Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “The overlapping blows of the pandemic and now an inflationary economy are limiting industry operations. For restaurants to fully recover and grow, we have to be open at full capacity—and to do that, we have to continue to grow our workforce. This program is a win-win for employers in desperate need of employees and individuals seeking training and opportunity.”
This program lays a pathway for workers to come to the United States on market-driven, non-immigrant, three-year visas, a release explained. The new program is intended for small businesses in industries with comparatively low sales per employee and would be available for non-agricultural jobs with lower education thresholds that have been unfilled for an extended period of time.
Initially, EWEA will be available for up to 65,000 workers, and after the first year, the total number of workers will be determined by market-based need.
“We appreciate Rep. Smucker’s (R-PA) willingness to work with us for the last few months to ensure this bill will meet some of the unique needs of the restaurant industry, and his leadership in getting it introduced in the House,” added Kennedy. “We look forward to working with Congress to pass this essential tool to help the industry address its workforce shortage.”
The foodservice industry is the U.S.’ second-largest private sector employer, with over 14 million people in its workforce across nearly 1 million eating and drinking establishments. According to the National Restaurant Association 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report, almost half of operators anticipate recruiting and retention of employees to be their top challenge in 2022.
To learn more about the program, click here.
What will be the overall impact of this program on the foodservice sector? Stay tuned to Deli Market News for updates.