6,000 first jobs | KFC hatches plan to fill huge talent gaps with unemployed youngsters

KFC hatches plan to fill huge talent gaps with unemployed youngsters

KFC hopes that a third of all its new recruits will be young people from disadvantaged backgrounds by the year 2030.

The fast food chain said its plan, developed with the charity UK Youth, is intended to help tackle unemployment among young people, and will help about 6,000 young people get their first job.

Training and work experience will be provided to 16-24 year olds who have faced employment challenges due to social, economic, domestic or mental health challenges.

The announcement comes at a time when the hospitality sector is facing a shortage of 250,000 seasonal workers, according to the trade body UK Hospitality.

What’s the plan?

KFC aims to achieve its ambitious goal through its recently-launched youth employment scheme called ‘Hatch’, on which it is partnering with charity UK Youth.

Focused on helping more disadvantaged young people, particularly those who have missed out on traditional employment opportunities and who may not have had the best start in life, the programme aims to break cycles of inequality, disadvantage and unemployment facing today’s generation of young people, which has exacerbated through the pandemic.

High rates of job vacancies in the UK economy are not currently translating into opportunities for young people, with the Office for National Statistics reporting that more than 700,000 young people aged 16 to 24 were not in education, employment or training as of May 2022.

Looking for more

Hatch is a seven module employability programme focused on empowering young people aged 16 to 24, who are ready for work but have struggled to access roles because of circumstances beyond their control, be they care givers, care leavers or young people who haven’t had the best start in life. In doing so, the programme aims to help break cycles of inequality, disadvantage and unemployment for young people in the communities that KFC serves.

The programme, delivered in partnership with local youth organisations, provides 1-2-1 support, group training and work experience placements for disadvantaged young people. Each young person will also be guaranteed an interview with an employer on graduation.

The programme is currently being piloted with 100 young people in Manchester, with 17 KFC restaurants taking part. The programme will be scaled up in 2023, with young people being recruited in KFC locations across the UK.

‘Unlock the potential of young people’

KFC’s UK general manager, Meghan Farren, told the PA news agency that it “urgently” needs to be easier for businesses to “invest in the next generation.”

“We need to unlock the potential of young people across the UK, and the skills shortage in the economy and the hospitality industry has only sharpened our focus on this”, Farren said.

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“But skills shortage or not, businesses of our scale and reach across the UK need to see investing in young people’s skills as an opportunity, not a chore or cost.

“We urgently need it to be easier for businesses, like ours, to invest in the next generation.

“We need policy to be designed around the skills young people and businesses need, and the investment to make this a reality – not just in tech firms, but also in the hospitality and retail industries which create the bulk of Britain’s private sector jobs.”

‘Supporting young people must be a priority’

Maddie Dinwoodie Chief Programme Officer, UK Youth, said: “The pandemic and now the cost of living crisis are having a huge impact on the employment prospects of this generation of young people.

“Supporting young people into work has to be a priority – they are our future leaders and the changemakers of tomorrow.

“We are enormously proud of our Hatch partnership with KFC, which is connecting young people to youth workers who are giving them the confidence, skills and the tools to navigate those first steps in their careers.”

‘Help them progress’

However, Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG, told the BBC that KFC’s initiative was a welcome move, but that more must be done to help young workers climb the career ladder.

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“It's great to see companies thinking of ways to bring young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into the workplace, but what would be even better is a scheme to keep them there, and to help them progress and become more senior," she told the BBC, adding: "Will KFC also be thinking about how to give these people opportunities to progress, and to get promoted? That's what we really need to see.”

What else is troubling talent acquisition leaders?

With hiring likely to remain challenging for the year ahead, a recent Glassdoor report lays bare the burning issues facing talent acquisition leaders across the UK. The findings suggest increased workplace transparency and authentic employer branding can slow employee churn and attract talent

Surveying talent acquisition, employee experience and employer branding specialists, Glassdoor’s State of Employer Branding report found the most significant hiring challenges employers are faced with today are:

  • Salary expectations not aligning with what the company pays (32%)

  • Best candidates receiving multiple offers from other companies (32%)

  • The company receiving too few qualified candidates (27%)

  • Applicants lacking the skills specified in the job description (23%)

  • Building a quality pipeline of job candidates takes too much time and resources (23%)

Furthermore, hiring leaders across the UK agreed that conditions have become more challenging since the pandemic. Compared to 2019, retaining employees is more difficult for more than half of (55%) talent acquisition specialists. A further 50% found sourcing candidates with the right qualifications harder and 47% could no longer make competitive offers.

Internally, developing and upskilling the existing workplace was problematic for a third (34%) of hiring leaders and 28% said adapting to a remote or hybrid workforce was also challenging.

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