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12/1/2016 4:16:39 PM

Tis the season to get jobby

The Christmas season is a peak time for part-time and temporary work in retail and other disciplines, but while you might think this casual work would be relatively low paid, that is not necessarily the case.

As of late 2016, the National Minimum Wage stands at £7.20 for people aged 25 and over, £6.95 for over-21s and £5.55 for over-18s, and until the National Living Wage is revised in April, the same thresholds apply to that too.

But according to reports, the average person working as an elf makes £7.75 per hour, and the typical Santa in his grotto makes £9.84 - well above the NMW and NLW for this season.

Naturally the requirements to be a stand-in for Santa are more specific than to be a helper elf leading people into the grotto, which perhaps goes some way towards explaining why the pay grade is a little higher for the big role, but the remuneration is respectable for a role that could require little more than dressing up and chatting to children.

Yet there is a nationwide shortage of Santas and elves alike in the run-up to Christmas 2016, with the Elf Run, a one-kilometre family charity run through the inside of the intu Metrocentre in Gateshead, one of the events affected by a lack of pointy-shoed assistance.

The event's website calls for volunteers: "Santa needs your help... Santa has a shortage of elves this year. He has so much to do he desperately needs your help."

With plans to break the record for the largest gathering of elves in one place at the Elf Run on December 11th, the shortage of available elves threatens to make that impossible - although it's worth noting the organisers are calling for volunteers rather than offering paid positions.

It's not only the Santa grottoes of the nation that are short-staffed at a crucial seasonal time though, as commercial kitchens up and down the UK are running on skeleton crews too.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation warned that as many as 61% of specialist recruitment agencies will be unable to meet the demand for qualified and experienced chefs to work in restaurants and other hospitality premises in the run-up to Christmas 2016.

A massive 89% of recruiters say demand for chefs has increased in the past three years, and 83% expect this trend to continue in 2017, with 93% saying there are currently not enough trained chefs in the UK to meet demand.

This all adds up to an increase in the price of sprouts for customers planning to dine out over Christmas - if diners can even find a restaurant that is still open, as those worst affected by staff shortages may not be able to serve food at all.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: "Without a supply of chefs to meet growing demand, restaurants, bars and hotels will have to pay more for their staff and it's likely that these costs will be passed on to the customer. We may even see restaurants close their doors if they can't remain competitive and profitable."

For anyone with experience in cooking or catering - even in a fast food kitchen - having previously worked in a commercial foodservice establishment is a fantastic credential in the current recruitment climate.

If you don't fancy strapping on pointy ears and pointy shoes, speak to your recruitment agency about chef roles, and you could find a lucrative source of extra income in the run-up to Christmas this year.

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