Over-50s could solve hospitality worker shortages

The hospitality sector’s labour shortage could be solved by midlife workers’ interest in the industry, according to research

In a study from Caterer.com so-called ‘boomerangs’ (people who leave a job but return to the same workplace later on) could help plug the sector’s labour shortage while also meeting consumer demand for workers aged over 50.

A reported 2.5 million people aged 50 and older are interested in moving to the hospitality industry, while almost half of the population (45%) said they’ve worked in the sector at some point in their lives.

The demographic presents a substantial talent pool for hospitality employers, as almost a third (30%) of workers over 50 are looking for a career change. When considering their options hospitality was the most popular choice among over-50s for a career move.

The research cited flexible shift patterns, strong social engagement and positive workplace culture among the top reasons hospitality was such a popular industry for workers over 50.

Almost half (48%) of people said working in the sector is also a great way to keep active as they age, and a further quarter (25%) of workers over 50 said the salary and tips available in hospitality jobs are appealing.

Patrick Thomson, a senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “With fewer young people entering the workforce and over-50s currently making up nearly a third of all workers, it’s clear that older workers are not just the workforce of the future but of today.

“With many employers worried about skill shortages in the wake of new immigration plans it’s vital that employers in industries like hospitality are able to make the most of the talent and experience the over-50s can bring to the workplace.”

The wider public is also supportive of over-50s working in the hospitality sector.

One in four (25%) survey respondents said they would trust hospitality workers aged over 50 to take their order and payment more than their younger counterparts, while 38% would be more comfortable if a hospitality worker over 50 handled their complaint or assisted in a crisis.

Thomson suggested there is plenty employers can do to ensure they aren’t missing the benefits of an older workforce.

“Hiring age-positively can bring in a diverse workforce – this includes advertising in a way that attracts the widest pool of candidates.

“Flexible working is crucial to supporting those with health needs or caring responsibilities to stay in work. And making training and progression available to employees at all ages is good for retention, making workers feel valued in the workplace,” he added.

Two-thousand nationally-representative UK adults were surveyed by between 28 to 31 January 2020. Also surveyed were 2,251 hospitality employees on 5 February 2020.