Catering and cleaning company Asito diligently searching for new staff

Caterers Appèl and Vermaat and cleaning company Asito are busy trying to get their workforce levels back to normal. No easy task as it turns out, but a necessary one now that the campus will become more crowded again. “We greatly appreciate our current staff members,” Asito branch manager Cindy Beckers says. “They work extremely hard to keep everything up and running.”

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“We still manage to do all the cleaning work in the mornings with our current team of some fifty people,” Cindy Beckers says. “Before corona, we had between seventy and eighty people working at TU/e, but after corona we decided not to extend the temporary contracts of some thirty people. Since the campus was largely deserted, there was less cleaning to do.”

Asito’s recruitment campaign is currently running at full speed, Beckers says. “Some applicants heard the news that we were hiring again from our current staff members. That really works best, but we’ve also published vacancies on several media platforms of course, and people also respond to that. Naturally, we also contacted former staff members whose contracts we had to terminate last year, but it turns out that many of them started with a new job.”

Beckers expects that she will have the cleaning crew back in order in a few weeks’ time. “The biggest problem we have at this point is with the team that carries out the so-called final sweep of the buildings to clean the toilets in the afternoon. We usually schedule three of those rounds a day, but now we had to scrap one. We hope to return to our former frequency of three rounds a day soon.”

Dual problem

Christian Verhoeven, branch manager for catering company Vermaat, which runs the Zwarte Doos and the University Club, speaks of a small disaster when asked about the current state of business operations. “We have a dual problem; not just the quantitative shortage of people, but also a shortage of people with the required quality levels. Many of the students who used to work for us – our experienced and well-trained flexible shell, one could say – tell us that they are currently too busy with their studies and that they can therefore no longer work for us. We have to accept that, we would never put pressure on people to neglect their studies, because that always comes first.”

But there is a shortage on his permanent staff as well, Verhoeven says. “I currently have three permanent staff members in the kitchen, but I really should have five or six. And the two floor managers I still have left could also use two colleagues. It’s a shame that things have to go this way, because I see how important our locations are for community forming at the university.”

Verhoeven tried various strategies to find new staff: recruiting the help of headhunters to look for new people locally, calls on social media and adds via Indeed. “I would therefore hereby like to ask every student who might be interested, to report to me in the Zwarte Doos or to send us an email.”


Caterer Appèl’s biggest problem at the moment is the increased interest in organizing on-campus events, a part of catering known as banqueting. “It seems as if everyone has been saving money over the past period so that they can start to organize events again,” account manager at Appèl Steven ten Kate says. “And that’s not easy now that we’ve just started to get our workforce level back to normal. We can still manage so far – we never want to give people no for an answer – but there are limits to what we can do.”

Appèl started recruiting new staff back in May already, Ten Kate says. “We assumed that we would be at seventy percent of our former capacity by mid-September. We took something of a risk at the time, because we had no idea in May what the situation would be in September. We’re walking a fine line in that regard.”

Ten Kate says that some of the people he had to fire during the previous period have now returned to the campus. “Six in total at this point, and they could join the fifteen staff members who were still employed. We’ve also recruited a few new people, and we currently have a vacancy. But all of this is based on that capacity of seventy percent of people from the TU/e community who are about to return to the campus. Once that percentage starts to climb any further, we still have about three or four FTEs to fill. And I can assure you: that’s not an easy task in these times. But let’s just be happy that we managed to take up that challenge to begin with. There’s still a long way to go with regard to requitement and training new people.”

Ten Kate says that corona and even the flooding in Limburg last July caused problems with the supply of certain products, such as bread and bottled water. “The bakeries that supply us with products are slowly starting again and are faced with staff shortages as well. And in Limburg, the mineral water bottling industry had even come to a temporary halt.” There is therefore a possibility that the shelves of the canteens won’t be fully stocked yet, Ten Kate says.

Those canteens have by now all reopened, except the one in the Auditorium. “We won’t open the regular canteen there again,” Ten Kate says, “but we will start with a Subway outlet in the Auditorium in January 2022.”

Monique Kuyck, head of Operational Services and Location management at TU/e, hopes that students and staff members will understand that things won’t run entirely smoothly now that the capacity on the campus is starting to increase again. Kuyck: “But we and our suppliers promise to do everything we can to ensure the highest possible level of service provision.”

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