Nearly three quarters (70%) of over 50s said they would consider a career in hospitality but 88% also think that hospitality businesses prefer hiring younger people, according to a new report from Rest Less, a digital community and advocate for people aged 50 and older.

Rest Less surveyed 1,000 of its job-seeking members aged 50 and older* to ask about their attitudes to working in the hospitality sector (Table 1 & 2). Despite positive attitudes to working in the sector, more than three quarters (70%) of respondents said that they would be less likely to apply for a hospitality job because they thought their age would count against them.

Additionally, respondents were asked what appealed to them about working in the hospitality sector. More than two thirds (68%) said they thought their life skills would be useful and 68% also said that the social aspect was appealing. Nearly two thirds (62%) said the opportunity to work with people of all ages would encourage them to apply.

However, when asked for the reasons why they wouldn’t apply for a role in the hospitality sector, 68% of respondents worried the hours would be too anti-social and that the role would be too physically demanding (46%).

Table 1: What appeals to you about working in the hospitality sector

Answer% of Respondents
My life skills would be useful68%
The social aspect68%
Opportunity to work with people of all ages62%
I have relevant skills and experience48%
I wouldn’t take my work home with me38%
It would get me out of the house and stave off boredom30%
I think it would be low stress10%

Table 2: Why wouldn’t you consider applying for a role in the hospitality sector

Answer% of Respondents
I think the hours would be anti-social66%
I think it would be too physically demanding46%
I think I’d have to work more hours than I want38%
I don’t think roles would be flexible enough to fit around my life33%
I think it would be stressful31%
I don’t think my previous experience is relevant30%
I don’t think it’s a long-term career opportunity20%

A recent report from the Office of National Statistics showed that in 2023, there were 1.2 million 50-64 year olds working in the distribution, hotels and restaurants sector – making up 25% of all workers aged 16-64 years old in this sector. This made it the sector that was least represented by 50 to 64 year olds of all (Table 3).

Table 3: People aged 50-64 as a proportion of all 16-64 year olds who are employed within each sector (taken from the ONS)

Industrial sector 50-64 year
olds in 2023 (000s)
50-64 year olds as a
proportion of 16-64
year olds in 2023
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 104 46%
Energy and water 172 35%
Manufacturing 806 33%
Construction 626 31%
Distribution, hotels and restaurants 1,216 25%
Transport and communication 945 29%
Banking and finance 1,672 28%
Public admin 836 31%
Education 1,067 34%
Human health and social work activities 1,409 33%
Other services 467 27%

Stuart Lewis, Chief Executive of Rest Less, commented: “Older workers are understandably frustrated at facing long-term age-related barriers to remaining in and/or re-entering the workforce. However, with the hospitality sector searching hard for reliable, talented workers at the same time as unemployment is rising amongst older workers, now is the perfect time for hospitality businesses to seize the moment and address the misconceptions about hiring older workers.

‘We’re delighted to have started to see a number of more progressive employers embracing age diversity in their hiring and recruitment strategies and are proud to be partnering with inclusive employers in the hospitality sector who are embracing part-time working patterns, adapting internal policies and procedures and welcoming employees of all ages.’‘With one third of the UKs workforce now aged over 50, and fewer young people entering the labour market, the average age of the workforce continues to increase. This makes age inclusive talent attraction and retention no longer a nice to have, but increasingly a core part of any employers holistic workforce planning.”

Dawn Browne, People & Talent Director at Fuller, Smith and Turner, commented on the findings: “As an industry, we need to work harder to shake off our reputation for being an unattractive proposition for older workers – something we have already had success with at Fuller’s. For us, this age group is an essential and valued part of our workforce for a number of reasons – not least as they arrive with fantastic people skills and a natural flair for making customers feel at ease. We often have up to five different generations working in our pubs – which delivers more rewards than it does challenges – and building an inclusive workforce of which age diversity is a crucial component is a real focus for us.

‘The hospitality sector struggles with misconceptions about working patterns and practices but the reality is that there is a huge variety of different types of roles available to suit a diverse range of needs. For example, we are recruiting for support centre positions as well as chefs, waiting staff and front of house team members – with many of these roles available on a part-time basis and with the flexibility to fit around life outside of work.”


Notes to Editors
*Survey was conducted in April/May 2023 amongst 1,000 Rest Less members aged 50+

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About Rest Less
Rest Less ( launched in early 2019 and is a digital community for people in their 50s, 60s and beyond. Rest Less is on a mission to help its members get more out of life and offers content guidance and resources on topics spanning Jobs and Careers, Volunteering, Learning, Money, Health and Lifestyle and Dating.