Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 19th 2015 Contents BG4 COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MARCH 2015 • WEEK THREE
The labour shortage that
businesses face in T&T
will continue to hurt the
economy through higher
inflation and lower pro-
ductivity, says Charles
Pashley, the managing
director of Prestige Hold-
ings, the parent company for the T&T fran-
chises of KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, and TGI
"The food inflation is at 14.8 per cent and
if there is limited labour supply what is going
to happen when we try to open more restau-
rants or anyone else tries to manufacture more
in their manufacturing plant? Naturally, wage
structures are going to change and create more
pressure on the inflation rate in the country.
Labour is a challenge in T&T. Just last night
our Independence Square Subway store was
robbed at gunpoint.
"Despite having labour challenges, we also
have crime issues and other issues that our
employees operate in. The challenges in our
service is not because of the people at our
stores but as a result of the people we cannot
get to put in the stores," he said at a seminar:
Labour Challenges and its Effect on Business
in T&T at the Westmoorings office of the
T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce
last week Wednesday.
He gave an overview of the macro-economic
statistics for the economy.
In 2015, T&T expects a gross domestic prod-
uct (GDP) growth of 1.5 per cent and an infla-
tion rate of 8.5 per cent of which food inflation
is 14.8 per cent, while the unemployment rate
is 3.1 per cent.
"Every economics book states that below
four per cent means full employment, so we
are above full employment in T&T. The Gov-
ernment s strategies continue to challenge our
supplies. Increased contribution to CEPEP
and URP and support for GATE and many
other social programmes which, if they worked
to develop the future of the country would be
great, but the challenge is whether the life
skills that are being taught are really helping
the economics of the country. The Government
continues with its expansionary strategy which
continues to impede our position in terms of
the labour supply," he said.
Within this economic environment, he said
Prestige Holdings runs 110 restaurants in T&T
and their current labour shortfall is 650 peo-
"When you have a store that is supposed
to operate with 12 people and four turn out;
then it is a challenge to service our customers.
Our ideal staffing is 2,700 team members and
505 managers. This does not include the
staffing we need to continue to open stores
and this ranges from 12 to 65 depending on
the type of store. We actually hire, recruit,
train and orient between 75 and 100 people
Every week in T&T our HR team hires close
to 100 people. This is due to the turnover
challenges we have in the organisation.
Cost of labour shortage
Pashley said the shortfall of 650 staff mem-
bers that they need costs them $25 to $30
"So if we go to any one of the social pro-
grammes and take 650 people, train them and
put them in our stores immediately this country
saves $30 million. The benefit for us is: if we
get 650 people in our stores then our sales
will go up by a minimum of five per cent and
that is $45 million," he said.
He added that this means the Government
saves $30 million and it gets an additional $7
million in VAT.
"If we get our 650 people from these social
programmes, the country will benefit. We are
just one company, if you multiply that twenty
fold in T&T you are talking about $800 to a
billion dollars in potential savings and benefits
to the economy."
He gave statistics to show that there are
112,000 people males and females in the pop-
ulation in the age group from 25 to 30 and in
ten years time that number goes down to
"This is a reduction of 38,000 people in
the population between the ages of 25 to 30.
That is when the economy is starting to train
people to move into more senior positions for
people to grow their businesses. With that
statistic, how do we move forward and address
this labour problem we have?"
Not even a raise in the minimum wage has
caused a spike in the number of people apply-
ing for jobs at their restaurants, he said.
"The increase in minimum wage---and some
employers increased it in December and others
in January---has not led to a larger number of
people applying to the industry. In January
2015, we had 26 more people hired than in
January 2014. This is in spite of between 25
per cent and 30 per cent increase in wages,"
He also said the quick service restaurant
(QSR) sector they operate in is not seen as a
first job of preference for a large part of the
Despite this view, he said the industry is
one of the few places an employee could come
in at the entry level, work for the minimum
wage and, in three years, with hard work and
managerial training, be managing a restau-
"We are not seen as an employer of choice.
However, we offer many benefits so it strange.
Over 70 per cent of the candidates that apply
in our restaurants do not meet basic entry
requirements which is the requirement of three
O Levels. We have 110 restaurants with 110
managers and two to three supervisors for
each one. We normally build the management
bench from within the organisation and this
is because it is not available externally to bring
into the system. So not being able to attract
people at the entry level is affecting our ability
to grow our management bench and to open
more restaurants," he said.
Business exec on
labour shortage in T&T:
Managing director of Prestige Holdings
PHOTO: SEAN NERO
Continued on Page 5
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