New effort launched to encourage hospitality firms to recruit older workers

Hospitality Guide to Recruiting Workers Aged 50+ aims to to dispel myths and encourage age inclusivity

L-R: Joel Neill, Hospitality Ulster; Economy Minister Conor Murphy; Eimear Callaghan,  Tourism NI; Stephen Magorrian, Hospitality Ulster chair.
L-R: Joel Neill, Hospitality Ulster; Economy Minister Conor Murphy; Eimear Callaghan, Tourism NI; Stephen Magorrian, Hospitality Ulster chair.

A new guide has been launched to encourage hospitality businesses to employ more people aged over the age of 50.

The document, produced by Hospitality Ulster in conjunction with Tourism NI, is designed to support the integration and sustainment of an older workforce within the sector.

The trade body said the guide seeks to dispel myths around the employment of those aged 50+ and advise operators on how to overcome any barriers with such employment and on what changes business can make, both short and long-term, to ensure that their business is age inclusive.

Hospitality Ulster and Tourism NI said reducing bias in recruitment is essential.

It’s the latest initiative aimed at expanding employment opportunities in the sector to help address staff shortages and improve working conditions.

As the lead of the NI Region Hospitality & Tourism Skills Board, Hospitality Ulster has backed the ‘Wellbeing Promise’, a commitment from employers to develop their staff and provide a work-life balance delivered with Tourism NI.

New education courses have also been co-designed with Belfast Met to provide training in food and bartending.

The Get Into Bartending and Get Into Food courses saw over 100 candidates achieve a level 2 qualification in customer service through a pilot with in the autumn of 2023.

The bartending course has since been rolled out across the north’s six further education colleges with Department for the Economy funding.

The success of the scheme has attracted private sector investment, with Diageo joining forces with Hospitality Ulster and Belfast MET to deliver an enhanced programme which includes a visit to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

“Hospitality Ulster’s goal is to transform productivity and deliver the skilled workforce necessary for sustainable growth in the hospitality and tourism industry,” said the trade body’s director of operations, Joel Neil.

“Employment in hospitality grew by 33% from 2013-2023, when average job growth was 18%, showing the importance of the sector in economic growth.

“As the minister prepares to bring forward his Good Jobs Bill, we see co-designed schemes such as this as a blueprint for how the public and private sectors, and hospitality in particular, can work together to deliver both economic growth and good employment conditions at the same time.”

Economy Minister Conor Murphy, who officially launched the new guide, said: “It is important that the sector grows in a way that creates good jobs and this guide will help provide support and sustainment of the over 50s workforce in the hospitality sector.

“Recently retired people or people looking for a second career are increasingly finding good and rewarding jobs within tourism and hospitality and in return these sectors benefit from the inclusion of older workers, bringing with them life experience and skills garnered in other, sometimes very different, careers.”