Restaurant chain KFC has announced plans to create a further 5,400 jobs following a surge in demand for takeaway meals during the coronavirus crisis.
The fast food chain said the new jobs will be created across its 965 restaurants in the UK and Ireland and will come in addition to the 4,300 roles created since March.
The new recruitment programme is aimed at 16 to 24-year-olds as KFC said it will utilise the government’s £2bn “Kickstart Scheme” to subsidise its hiring.
Under the government programme, which was launched in September, employers will receive funding to pay the national minimum wage to get young people back into work.
The scheme is expected to run until December 2021 but KFC said all its new hires will be on permanent basis in full time or part time roles offering a minimum of 25 hours per week. It added the company does not offer zero-hour contracts.
Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is the world’s second largest fast food chain, said it is on track to hire 10,000 people by the end of the year reflecting its positive outlook for the sector.
It builds on the recent trend of services with lockdown immunity, such as supermarkets and delivery firms, taking people on at a time when the wider economy is gearing up for a jobs crisis as the government’s furlough scheme winds down.
Most recently Domino’s Pizza said it was hiring an additional 5,000 staff after it reported a 5% leap in sales over the first half of its financial year covering the full lockdown period.
Its fortunes are in stark contrast to those of dine-in rivals Pizza Express and Pizza Hut Restaurants which are cutting outlets as a result of the lockdown damage and collectively placing more than 1,500 jobs at risk.
Analysis by Sky News shows hospitality to be the third worst-hit part of the economy despite the lift from the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
Paula MacKenzie, General Manager at KFC UK & Ireland said: “There’s no denying it’s been a tough year for the hospitality sector, and we’re already seeing the substantial impact of that across our high streets and city centres.”
Ms MacKenzie added: “The vast majority of our restaurants are run by franchisees, which are often smaller family owned businesses that have faced the unique set of challenges of this year, including the complete closure of restaurants in March – we’re proud to have been able to work together to reopen responsibly and in turn ensure the stability of our restaurants and provide new job openings into the industry at this time.”
KFC says around 95% of its restaurants are run by 37 franchise partners, who range from small family owned businesses to bigger franchise companies that run multiple outlets.
The UK faces not only a COVID-19-linked jobs crisis but the challenge of curbing the numbers of young people deemed to be ‘not in education, employment or training’.
In July, almost 538,000 young people claimed Universal Credit – more than double the total in March.
Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “There is no denying that this is a tough time for British workers, so we welcome this major investment in jobs, training and skills, especially for younger workers and those who may not have formal qualifications.
“It is great that iconic brands like KFC are continuing to grow and invest in the UK during this challenging time. We continue to support businesses of all shapes and sizes through this crisis with measures like the Kickstart scheme.”