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Can Baby Boomers save the hospitality sector?

Tim Horrocks
July 19, 2023

Hospitality industry recruitment specialists have suggested that older workers could be the answer to the staffing crisis currently affecting the sector.

Brexit and Covid hit hospitality hard. The former meant that the foreign labour that propped up the sector was no longer available, and the latter drove hospitality workers to find work where they felt less at risk. The result has been a staffing crisis and pub closures reaching a decade-high peak.  

Despite closures, the Office of National Statistic still puts the current number of vacancies across the industry at 146,000. To fill them, struggling pub operators are offering better pay and career development opportunities that might better attract candidates and coax Baby Boomers out of retirement to become chefs, waiters and bar staff.  

Baby Boomers are often characterised by recruiters as hard-working and loyal employees and Jeff Williams, CEO of Barcats, a specialist hospitality recruiter, has spoken about Baby Boomers and the solution they might offer the hospitality industry. He called on the “huge pool of fantastic, hard-working [Baby Boomer] talent” to save UK pubs and a survey by his company found that around half of pub operators valued their older staff over younger.

The Barcats survey also found that pub managers think that older workers are often put off hospitality work because they think they are too old or that employers don’t want them. If Baby Boomers are to save UK pubs from calling last orders for good, there’s work to be done in overturning this perception. However, with Fuller, Smith & Turner having recently hired a 58-year-old apprentice commis chef, there’s reason to believe this is underway.