Hospitality and retail sectors are hoping for a boom in sales of food and drink
A reported 64% of UK hospitality managers will tackle staff shortages by hiring older workers. AFP News

A study that surveyed 1,000 managers from the hospitality Industry, revealed that businesses in this sector are thinking of hiring older staff – people aged 50 or above to cater to the employee shortage issue. Seven out of 10 (72%) managers in the hospitality industry are of this opinion.

One of the largest hospitality industry recruiting platforms in the world, Barcats, which has a presence in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, has released a report about the hospitality industry workers shortage problem in the country.

This comes at a time when a UKHospitality report revealed that 45 per cent of business operators in the industry are facing a loss because of the hiring shortage which is resulting in a loss of £21 billion revenue for the sector and £5 billion for the economy. The most in-demand job in the hospitality industry at the moment is that of chef.

Old workers needed for economic growth

An article published in the Telegraph highlighted the role of the hospitality industry in the UK as it has a turnover of £130 billion. Although the revenue generated by the industry has declined in recent years because of the pandemic, we shouldn't be writing it off.

A report by GII Research shows that the industry will grow 2.8 per cent from 2022 to 2027 as a result of Brexit as new hotels, cafes and restaurants come up. Hence, to cater to this growth, it's necessary to fill up these vacant positions. In that regard, this new report by Barcats is a wake-up call for the hospitality industry in the UK.

The necessity of older workers in the workforce has become crucial as Brexit has reduced the availability of young European workers in the UK, followed by the pandemic blow which led to many people leaving their jobs.

As younger workers left the hospitality sector during the pandemic, older workers returned as their economic condition declined. A third of people between the ages 55 to 59 chose to retire early and left the industry.

Two-thirds of the managers, 64 per cent surveyed, revealed they will hire people over 50 while three-quarters said this is a likely solution.

Older workers can upskill

The Barcats report shows critical aspects of staff shortage in hospitality like cleaners, waiters and chefs which is hampering the growth of businesses. In April 2022, it was revealed that 20 per cent of cleaning positions and 18 per cent of front house positions are lying vacant.

A year later, nearly a third of businesses in the hospitality sector are crippled by the same issue as they struggle to find waiters, bar staff, kitchen workers and chefs. Most managers who took part in the study said hiring older staff might be the way. However, 59 per cent of them feel that old people don't apply because they feel demoralised considering their age and the rest 36 per cent think that businesses don't want them.

Speaking about the matter, the CEO of Barcats, Jeff Williams highlighted the case of a 73-year-old worker in East London whose lifetime experience in the industry, especially his understanding of the ethos of good hospitality, helped his employers.

Older workers can improve their modern-day skills in free-of-cost training programs and workshops. They can easily upskill to 2023 hospitality standards, said Jeff Williams.

The research highlights how the industry is actively encouraging retired people to join the workforce as they are urging older people to apply for jobs in restaurants, cafes and local pubs.

Are older workers an asset to the industry?

Businesses are not only banking on the experiences of older workers, they are also banking on the reliability factor that comes attached with it. Nearly half of the managers surveyed, 49 per cent said that older workers are more responsible and reliable and that younger workers.

Most young workers have a family to look after and can't work on unsociable hours which can be easily filled up by the older workers. This is proving to be an asset for the hospitality industry.

Last year an article published in the Financial Times revealed that 25.2 per cent of workers in the UK hospitality industry are of 50 years of age and above. That accounts for 2.2 million people. 19 per cent of businesses surveyed in that report revealed that they are hiring more older staff. The Barcats report upholds the same trend in the hospitality industry.