KFC says one-third of hires will be disadvantaged youth by 2030

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KFC restaurant in Waterloo, London

KFC says that by 2030, a third of all its new hires in the UK will be young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The fast-food chain expects the move to help around 6,000 people get their first job, at a time when the hospitality industry is struggling with staff shortages.

KFC has around 950 restaurants across the UK.

Economists welcomed the pledge, but said more needed to be done to keep young people in the workplace.

KFC said the scheme, developed with charity UK Youth, aims to tackle youth unemployment.

The program, which will include training and practical work experience, is aimed at people between the ages of 16 and 24 who have encountered barriers to employment due to social, economic, domestic or mental health issues.

Meghan Farren, Managing Director of KFC UK and Ireland, said: “If we are to tackle labor shortages and deliver better jobs and economic growth across the country for the next generation, we must urgently help young people who have been excluded from education and training opportunities to find their place and voice in the workplace.”

She added that a commitment like this, to support young people, was “an investment in the future of our businesses”.

The announcement comes as a number of industries are struggling with staff shortages. Hospitality businesses such as pubs, bars and restaurants are among those hard hit.

The estimated number of vacancies fell in the three months to September, according to the Office for National Statistics. But the level is still high with many companies struggling to recruit.

Last month, a survey by business lobby group CBI found that almost three-quarters of UK businesses had suffered from labor shortages in the past 12 months.

Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG, welcomed KFC’s initiative but said more needed to be done to help keep young people in employment.

“It’s great to see companies thinking about ways to bring young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into the workplace, but what would be even better is a program to keep them there and help them progress and to become more senior,” she told the BBC.

Ms Selfin said it was crucial to provide continuing education to workers, especially those who may not have completed their education.

“Will KFC also think about how to give these people opportunities to progress and be promoted? That’s what we really need to see,” she said.

Ms Selfin said it would be a “win-win” if companies started thinking not just about how to recruit, but also how to retain workers from different backgrounds.

“We’re likely to continue to have a tight labor market for some time to come, so thinking about that will also help businesses position themselves for the future,” she added.

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