As the hiring struggles continue in foodservice, operators are increasingly relying on teenagers to make up a significant proportion of their restaurant workforce.
New data from Black Box Intelligence shows that teenagers aged 18 years or younger comprise a significantly larger section of the restaurant workforce than they did in 2019. In limited-service restaurants, teenagers made up 17 per cent of the workforce in 2019 but 24 per cent by the end of Q3 2021.
In the full-service category, the trend was less noticeable but still present, as the percentage of hourly, non-management employees aged 18 and younger had risen to 7.2 per cent from 4.6 per cent in 2019.
It seems fair to suggest that this trend has likely been affected by the current and well-documented labour pressures in foodservice.
Between 2019 and October 2021, the presence of the 25- to 34-year-old demographic in foodservice shrank more than any other in both limited- and full-service restaurants, found Black Box. The hypothesis is that many of these workers have left the workforce for employment in other industries as a result of the effects of the pandemic.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that teens aged 16 to 19 have increased their participation in the restaurant workforce.
Though the turnover rate tends to be higher for younger workers, there are benefits for restaurants targeting teen employees. While this can have its negative impacts, such as the potential for higher turnover as teenagers reach a different stage of their life that requires reevaluation or relocation, there are benefits too, not least their technologically savvy approach to life, a strong work ethic, and the little need for certain perks such as childcare time off.