Older workers in the UK are helping to close the hospitality labor force gap

UK hospitality companies are increasingly turning to older workers to ease staffing shortages that have hit the industry in the wake of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, industry survey says.

About 19 percent of hospitality companies surveyed said the proportion of over-50s in their organizations had increased in the past year.

Recruitment firm Caterer.com estimates that workers aged 50 and older make up 25.2 percent of the 2.2 million hospitality workforce. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that before 2020, those over 50 made up less than a fifth of the workforce in the industry.

The shift in demographics in the hospitality industry shows that managers have had to look beyond the traditional workforce pool to meet staffing needs in recent years.

The hospitality sector has lost 121,000 EU jobs over the past two years – 41 percent of the pre-pandemic total. In August, the vacancy rate across the industry was 7.7 percent – at least two percentage points higher than any other sector – although the rate has improved slightly in recent months.

Robert Richardson, chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality, the industry body for managers in the industry, said the tight job market has forced bars, restaurants and hotels to “think outside the box” about who to hire.

According to the study, which was based on a survey of 100 hospitality hiring managers, about 62 percent of hospitality companies said they are hiring more inclusively to address the workforce shortage, and 25 percent said older workers are helping to overcome the industry’s workforce shortage would be important and 500 employees as well as an analysis of job advertisements.

Kathy Dyball, director at Caterer.com, said a combination of Brexit, the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have combined to produce the “most dramatic transformation” in the hospitality workforce that it has seen.

“Although it will take time to address long-standing labor shortages, it’s encouraging to see employers expanding the range of candidates they target,” Dyball said, adding that more needs to be done to fill roles “to be highlighted”, “which may suit people of any working age”.

In July, McDonald’s UK restaurants launched a recruitment campaign for older workers, which featured an ad starring a silver-haired employee who wasn’t “the retiring type”. Dame Sharon White, Chair of John Lewis, has also called for encouraging older workers who have left the labor market during the pandemic to return to work to fill staffing shortages.

Unemployment among Britons aged 50-64 has increased over the past two years. Almost 28 percent of this age group are economically inactive, compared to 25.5 percent before the pandemic.

Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, a think tank, said while the “great retirement” isn’t fully underway as economic inactivity is still mounting, he predicted that the “cost-of-living crisis should result in more older people dying.” looking for work to supplement their income”.

https://www.ft.com/content/6bc27022-6f38-426b-b26c-ab0e7015f0f4 Older workers in the UK are helping to close the hospitality labor force gap

Adam Bradshaw

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