Why is Mallorca facing a shortage of staff? | - EFE

I’d wondered what the steel crowd safety barriers were for. The barriers were stacked in the car park at my local Eroski supermarket. What crowds were due to be gathering by the supermarket, whose safety would require ensuring? All was to become clear. The barriers were subsequently arranged in such a manner that part of the car park wasn’t fenced off so much as barriered-off. Crowd safety wasn’t the issue. There were no crowds. Inside the enclosed space was a bus - the health ministry’s Vacubus. A vaccination point had been established outside an Eroski in Alcudia.

Along the road, just up the road in fact, a sign had been attached to a lamppost. This way to the vaccination point, as if it were possible to miss it. Maybe there were other signs. I’m sure there were and still will be. How long will the bus be in the car park? I can’t say. Alcudia town hall wasn’t much use in this regard. On the day that the vaccination point opened, there was no mention of the bus on its Facebook page.

Nor had there been any advance notice. I daresay that among the numerous Covid links for this or that on the health service’s websites, there is something about the whereabouts of the bus. I did start to search but soon gave up. It’s not as if I need the bus anyway - I’m vaxxed thrice over.

Crowds there were not when I parked in a space in what temporarily remains of the car park. Not a single taker as far as I could make out. There were three staff on chairs in the morning sun. They were all busy looking at their phones. I could see someone else inside the bus. Four people. Four people for what? Maybe there are rushes at other times of the day. Something tells me not.

The health ministry’s Covid reports for March 7 and 8 indicated that the total number of people getting a first jab (in the whole of the Balearics) had risen by 63 over a 24-hour period.

These are health workers. Obviously they are health workers. Qualified personnel. The health service has needed all the staff it could get, and the health ministry has reported on various occasions about its recruitment over the course of the pandemic. Hundreds have been taken on. But as we appear to be at a stage of almost total Covid de-escalation, what happens with all the Covid recruits?

Do we hear anything nowadays about the contact tracers who were taken on? What about all those brought in to check Passenger Locator Forms? If there is any reason to continue with these forms, then it is to maintain the jobs of the locator form checkers and the tracers. Ireland, for one, has dispensed with the necessity, along with all other Covid travel checks.

Then there are the Covid agents. Do you remember these, as they did cause a bit of a fuss. People who had applied to be, say local police officers, but who had not been selected could seek employment as a Covid agent. A sort of assistant to the police, there were those among police senior ranks who were critical of the Balearic government having come up with the idea; they were concerned about the level of training. Not all town halls were enthusiastic either.

One to have taken agents on is Manacor - eight of them at the start of February. What do these agents now do? Covid regulations have been cut right back. The agents, as noted six weeks ago by Manacor, will also be involved with the likes of traffic control and checking on dog poo. Little to do with Covid as such, but numbers to be added to the employment figures nevertheless.

Questionable though the necessity may now be for some of these jobs, I’m not criticising. If people have work, then good. But does a time not come when questions are asked? In the meantime, the biggest employer in the Balearics which isn’t the public sector, i.e. the hospitality industry, is facing a potential shortage of personnel.

Covid has led to something of a staff crisis for hospitality in various countries. A reason is that people have left the industry and don’t intend returning because they came to realise how undervalued and overworked they were. This doesn’t appear to be the situation in the Balearics, where the ERTE furlough scheme has at least seen people through (just about) and there hasn’t been a feared-for switch from ERTE to ERE, i.e. redundancy.

However, there is a concern, and it extends to the cost to rent and therefore the ability to attract qualified and experienced staff from the mainland. So, we are returning to a problem that existed pre-Covid, which is accommodation and its price.
A shortage in one sector and a glut in another.