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British Hospitality Bosses Roll Out The Welcome Mat For Older Workers

Pub and restaurant bosses believe the recruitment problems affecting the hospitality sector could be solved if older people who took early retirement returned to work and considered a late-life career as a chef, bartender or waiter.

According to a new study commissioned by hospitality recruitment platform Barcats, 72% of pub and restaurant bosses agreed that having more over 50s on the payroll could fix the workforce crisis that has put thousands of businesses on the brink of bankruptcy.

The survey of a thusand hospitality managers responsible for hiring staff found that almost two thirds (64%) would consider hiring someone over 50, with half (49%) praising the reliability of older workers over young ones.

The findings highlight the problems that continue to plague the UK’s hospitality sector as it tries to recover from the damaging impact of the pandemic. Over the past six years the industry has increased its annual economic contribution by £20 billion to £93 billion**, but despite being the 3rd biggest employer in the UK, accounting for 3.5m jobs through direct employment in 2022, and a further 3m indirectly, it continues to suffer from restricted growth and a tight labour market.

Almost a third (32%) of bosses surveyed said their business was still experiencing problems trying to hire skilled labour including chefs, kitchen workers, bar staff and waiters.

A significant proportion said recruitment issues had nearly put them out of business (44%) and in some cases (13%) had forced them to close for part of the week.

According to recent ONS data, the increase in economic inactivity since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic has been driven by the over 50 age group.

Nearly half of those aged 60-65 who chose to give up work around the time the pandemic struck and had not returned by last summer.

More surprisingly, perhaps, a third (33%) aged 55-59 and 1 in 10 (9%) aged 50-54 have chosen to retire early.

But with so many job vacancies across the hospitality sector, why aren’t recruiters able to attract older applicants?

According to the Barcats survey, managers think older people are put off from applying for vacant roles either because they think they are too old for the type of work the job would involve (59%) or because they think that employers don’t want them (36%).

Jeff Williams, Barcats CEO commented: “This research shows that the hospitality sector is actively encouraging older and retired people to come forward and apply for jobs in their local pubs, restaurants and cafes. 7 in 10 managers think having staff aged over 50 would give their business a boost and we’ve seen this work really well in other territories that Barcats already operates in.

“Globally the hospitality industry has suffered over recent years – but the UK has been hit even harder with the added pressure of Brexit. Barcats is a unique platform that connects venue operators and staff, and training programmes, free of charge to those wanting to learn and upskill.

“Our oldest Barcats UK member who has signed up for work in hospitality is a 73-year-old male from East London. Who has no doubt he’s got a lifetime of experiences, possibly even from historic experience in hospitality, and great stories to share and most importantly, know what good hospitality means.

“While older workers may not have to current drinks trends nailed, they could still be the most fabulous bartender or sommelier by undertaking our training programmes which are offered free to all, means they can refresh or upskill to ensure everyone is 2023- hospitality ready”.

Barcats currently has 23.5K potential staff members ready to work here in the UK – which have profiled their skills and are being matched to jobs most suitable to them.  All staff members can continue to update their profiles as they gather more experience or undertake the many online training programmes available on the platform that can be completed from home.

Helen Whitchurch, 53 from New Mills, says: “I love working with people but found managing the Lettings side of Estate Agency too stressful, and unpredictable and this was affecting my home life. I decided it was time for a change .  I began working at the Devonshire Arms 6 years ago and have never looked back. I think the hospitality sector is great for the over 50s, I get to meet loads of people, it’s fun, and enjoyable however – I take my role seriously and understand how I fit into the overall wellbeing and management of the pub. But at the end of the day, I leave it in the pub, switch off and go home.

“I would encourage any other person thinking of getting a full or part time role to consider hospitality, it’s so much fun, and really rewarding”.


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