As a business owner or manager, you know that hiring quality staff has become an increasingly difficult challenge in recent years. Whether you need kitchen help, resort staff or occasional workers, many industries—including tourism—are facing labour shortages across the board. Having witnessed this challenge first hand, former Georgian College professor and coordinator of the Hotel and Resort Program Michael Agema decided to build a solution. Agema Hospitality is his creation: This online platform (soon to be an App) connects job seekers with businesses in the hospitality industry looking to fill staffing gaps. We caught up with Michael to learn more about Agema Hospitality and how it’s helping both workers and businesses across the tourism and hospitality industry in our region.
Can you give us a simple explanation of what Agema Hospitality does?
Agema Hospitality was started to connect individuals to opportunities on a work-when-you-want platform. For example, say you worked part time in the hospitality industry and you’d love to pick up an extra shift or two this week, but you don’t want to commit to two places on a part-time basis. If you have the skills and the certifications, Agema Hospitality can give you that opportunity. We know the gaps and we have the connections to help you find that work and to help businesses find those workers.
Can you give us an example of when a business might turn to Agema Hospitality?
Businesses come to us to fulfill gaps in peak human resource needs. They might have a wedding on Saturday and need 5 banquet servers from 4 p.m. until midnight. They give us the details, black-on-black uniform for a 3-course dinner service. The team goes in, executes well and you can’t even tell they were temporary workers.
Can you explain how you were uniquely positioned to create Agema Hospitality?
My background is as a Georgian College professor for 27 years in the hotel/resort program.Agema Hospitality was born out of the relationships I’ve built in the industry. Our business clients include The J.W. Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort, Casino Rama, Fern Resort, Blue Mountain, Deerhurst Resort. I went to my contacts and said I will help you put real people in real positions. Across the board, they asked when can you start? So I’ve been in the business of pain relief since 2015.
How can a worker qualify to pick up shifts on Agema Hospitality?
At this moment, I or my operations manager Paulo do our due diligence before accepting an employee. The company is built on trust, integrity and honesty. We ask for their credentials, Smart Serve, BGS Service Excellence Training and Health and Safety training, driver’s licence. When the app is released, there will be a rating component for employees, like Uber. A worker will be able to build reputation capital via their ratings and employers will be able to choose those staff with great ratings. If Casino Rama wants Agema Hospitality’s 30 best servers, they will be able to request them.
Who are the average Agema Hospitality workers at the moment?
The main demographic right now is international students. I know I need to attract the 45-to- 50-year-old transitioned individual who is looking for a hand up, wants to get back in the workplace, has a car, those who maybe can’t work 5 days but can work 2.
Is it an advantage to have a car?
Definitely. One of the unique subsets of what I do is that the workers carpool everywhere. We are still working on a way of logistically moving people. The driver gets a rate premium for driving because of the added responsibility. Not only is it environmentally responsible it’s a pretty unique experience for these international students. On an average job, the driver could be Korean, there could be a Turkish student, a Brazilian and a Vietnamese staffer, all going to work, all speaking English and all sharing cultural experiences.
What are your goals for Agema Hospitality going forward?
We are working hard on the development of the app, which we hope to launch in the spring of this year. We will need to build our staff pool. We have well over 300 active associates in the pool and this summer I assume we’ll need 500 to address the needs of the region’s employers. In four years, every year my business has tripled. My goal is to be the
person you call to help you with your staffing pain relief.
Do you see any long-term solutions to the current labour challenges?
I hear about the shortages across all platforms, health, transportation, hospitality.
In the world of labour, I’d love to be out of business. I’d love that we have enough of a labour pool that everyone has a job that they enjoy. In the meantime, I will keep helping both ends of the spectrum and keep working as a partner with both staff and employers.
How can people find out more?
They can head over to www.agemahospitality.com
or download the Agema Mobile App on the AppStore or Play Store or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
to get started.