As the hospitality sector continues to grapple with a staffing crisis, employers have explained how working with vulnerable groups such as the homeless and ex-offenders has helped bridge the labour shortage.
As well as tackling the skills shortage working with such groups is appealing to your guests, research by Caterer.com and charity Only a Pavement Away has shown. The recruitment platform and charity found that 85% of people considered the social impact of a business to be an important factor in deciding where to eat, below only hygiene ratings and being waste conscious.
Almost half (42%) of those asked said they would be more likely to visit a restaurant of they kne wit employed ex-offenders or the homeless, with two thirds of consumers (64%) believing hospitality has a role to play in helping vulnerable people.
Alex Head, founder of Social Pantry said: "When I started Social Pantry, I made a commitment that I would try to maintain 10% of my team being ex-offenders, and I haven't looked back. Coming out of prison and having a job is a key step in rehabilitating back into society, reduces the rate of reoffending and allows them to get back on their feet.
"Not only does this have a positive impact on your employees, but also the people who are choosing your business – many of my customers actively use Social Pantry because of our social purpose. I would highly recommend all employers look at ways they can recruit these groups."
Iulian was living on the streets in London before he moved into Caritas Anchor House, which supports single homeless people, at the start of this year. His support worker put him in touch with Only A Pavement Away who encouraged and supported him to apply for a job at The Ivy Collection.
He said: "Only A Pavement Away helped me prepare for the interview and I was accepted for a trial shift. It went really well and I was offered a role as a kitchen porter at The Ivy St John's Wood. Four and a half months later I was promoted to commis chef. Cooking is something that I really love and I'm so happy to be there.
"When you go from being homeless to moving into your new home and being given a chance to forge a new career, it's a feeling I can't easily describe. I am so relieved and finally feel safe and stable. I am proud and know I have accomplished something amazing."
Neil Pattison, director of Caterer.com, said: "As consumers become more ethically minded, the social impact of where they are spending their money is becoming increasingly important.
"The hospitality industry offers exceptional training and career opportunities for people from all backgrounds. While only a third of employers are currently working with ex-offenders, an encouraging 79% of employers say they would be willing to provide on-the-job training for vulnerable people, demonstrating a strong appetite for hiring these groups."
Greg Mangham, founder of Only A Pavement Away, added: "Hospitality is an exciting industry, and one which has always fostered camaraderie between colleagues through training and lifelong learning opportunities. This spirit has certainly aided the success of Only A Pavement Away in connecting with employers who want to help ex-offenders and vulnerable groups back into the workforce. This research proves the unique opportunity hospitality employers have to not only respond to consumer demands but plug talent gaps within their business in a socially responsible way."