01 October 2021

Over 50? Silver servers desperately wanted by Scottish pubs

United Kingdom | Amid the most severe labour crunch since the 1970s, bosses at Scotland’s top pubs, hotels and restaurants hope a generation of “silver servers” could be the saviour.

The Scottish Hospitality Group, which represents the country’s leading on-premise operators, is calling on anyone over 50, with or without work experience, to join the trade and enjoy the benefits of flexible, part-time work to plug the huge staffing gap that is crippling the sector, the BBC reported on 7 September 2021.

With the government’s furlough scheme terminating at end of September, the group is desperate to fill hundreds of positions. The situation is made worse as younger staff are leaving due to the strain of ongoing understaffing issues.

There is widespread fear that the staff shortage could seriously stall the recovery of the on-premise sector.

The group hopes that targeting over 50s could also be the answer to the UK’s unemployment figures. Pre-pandemic research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies found that 55-65-year-olds are less likely to make a comeback following spells of unemployment, with less than one in three over 55-year-olds returning to work.

Also, in September, the Confederation of British Industry, the UK’s largest employers’ group, warned that labour supply problems affecting industries from construction and manufacturing to retail and hospitality could last for up to two years, The Financial Times reported.

The Guardian newspaper said that hoteliers have already limited the number of bookable rooms because they do not have enough housekeeping staff and cannot get linen laundered. Elsewhere, restaurant owners have had to choose between lunchtime and evening services because they are unable to cater for both.

Although industry groups are reluctant to blame Brexit for some of the staff shortages in order not to rub the government the wrong way, restaurant chain Wagamama, which serves Asian food at its 147 sites across the UK, said it is short of chefs at nearly a third of its venues because they cannot get staff from Europe following Brexit immigration restrictions.

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