The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Can baby boomers save the day for New Zealand’s hospitality industry?

New research from Barcats has revealed that COVID-19 is no deterrent for New Zealand’s baby boomers who are increasingly signing up to work in pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafés.

Jeffrey Williams, CEO and Founder of Barcats – a New Zealand-based hospitality platform which connects venues with job seekers – says they have experienced a 550% national increase in over 50s joining the hospitality community over the last six months.

Jeffrey Williams

“Since March 2020, Christchurch has experienced the biggest leap in sign-ups from over 50s, with a significant 875% increase, followed by Auckland with a 325% increase,” he says.

“Mature workers often have a strong work ethic and are super reliable and this is exactly what we need in the industry right now when venues are battling with staff shortages due to a lack of incoming backpackers and working holiday makers.”

Williams says mature workers will play a key role in rebuilding the country’s hospitality industry and more venues need to be flexible in their approach to hiring to make this work.

“They will need to embrace the casualisation of the workforce and offer shorter shifts such as splitting the chef role into two or three jobs throughout the day,” he says.

In 2017, more than 70,000 working holiday visas were granted for New Zealand and many of these people worked in local bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels.

Williams says that with strict border closures in place, we won’t have access to this vital workforce for the foreseeable future.” 

“We’re faced with a significant staff and skills shortage in the hospitality industry that will ultimately impact the number of businesses that will be able to re-open and sustain through the summer and Christmas periods,” he says.

“We’re definitely seeing an increase in demand for hospitality staff with over 40 jobs listed in New Zealand in just the last couple of days.” 

Barcats is currently offering practical training for the over 50s through its partners Ananas, Lion, Aspire2, Up Education and Nestle.

“More venues need to give this experienced generation and untapped workforce a chance to help rebuild our industry,” says Williams. 

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