Viewpoint: Why apprenticeships work at any age

13 October 2022 by
Viewpoint: Why apprenticeships work at any age

There is value in apprenticeships for the over-50s, with opportunities in the hospitality sector for workers of all ages, says Jill Whittaker

With more and more people retiring later these days, the over-50s make up a large proportion of the catering and hospitality workforce. And, with the recruitment crisis currently facing our industry, offering retraining or upskilling opportunities for this age group is an effective way to foster a diverse and skilled team.

Luckily, the catering and hospitality industry has a proud history of being non-ageist. You're just as likely to see a senior manager in their mid-20s as you are one in their mid-50s and there are opportunities for people of all working ages to embrace.

In my view, there's no role an 18-year-old could take on in this sector that a 50-year-old couldn't do without the right training.

Valuable experience

We've seen a much bigger focus on promoting a diverse workforce over recent years, but one of the facets that doesn't get talked about so often is age. We should be embracing the many benefits that older employees can bring.

Not only can they share valuable life experience with their co-workers, but it's likely that some of the skills they've gained in their previous roles can often be harnessed in catering and hospitality.

There's no role an 18-year-old could take on in this sector that a 50-year-old couldn't do without the right training

Plus, much work in our sector is client-facing and customers will be drawn to spend time in environments where they see people like them. It is ideal to recruit a mixture of age groups to appeal to a broad customer base.

Lifelong learning

Regardless of age, apprenticeships are an ideal way for people to reskill or to build on the skills they already have, whether they're new to catering and hospitality or want to progress further.

For years, they've mostly been seen as an option for school leavers, but there's no age limit on apprenticeships. Both employees and employers are increasingly recognising the benefits of training at any age, especially as our working lives are getting longer.

In fact, the over-50s tend to have a higher success rate in their apprenticeships than any other age group. HIT Training apprentices in the over-50s bracket have seen a 15% higher pass rate than the 16–18-year-olds and have the lowest dropout rate of all age groups. They are also less likely to take a break in their learning.

For employees, the benefits of training hold true at any age. There are studies showing that if you keep your brain active, it gives you a happier life. And learning new skills is a big part of that.

For employers, investing in training is a key part of building and retaining a loyal workforce and more and more businesses are realising that age shouldn't be a limiting factor in this. In fact, over the past five years, 12% of HIT apprentices have been over 50, compared to just 8% under 19 years of age.

And when it comes to over-50s, those useful skills they're likely to have picked up throughout their working lives could lead to shorter apprenticeships and therefore reduced costs for their employers.

There are huge opportunities in catering and hospitality for anyone who's hard working and willing to learn – and apprenticeships are an ideal way to help them reach that potential. Working with an experienced training provider will help a company get to know what an individual of any age can learn and benefit from the most.

Jill Whittaker is managing director at HIT Training. For more information visit:

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