(CNN) - (04/24/19) - Unemployment is historically low, so McDonald's is targeting a new employee demographic: Older Americans.
The fast food chain said on Wednesday that it is partnering with AARP, a nonprofit interest group for aging Americans, to help attract workers who are aged fifty or above. That demographic makes up just 11% of the workforce at corporate-owned stores, according to the company.
McDonald's hopes that the new recruitment tactic will attract workers for breakfast and lunch shifts, in particular. Now, McDonald's tends to attract younger workers who either can't work mornings because of school, or prefer not to start early in the day. Hiring older workers is also a way to attract talent as US unemployment, now at 3.8%, hovers near all-time lows.
McDonald's has posted positions to its AARP site. The AARP Foundation is helping match candidates with open jobs at McDonald's through its Senior Community Service Employment Program, which helps low-income, unemployed people aged 55 and older find work, and through its Back to Work 50+, which also helps older job seekers. The process is being piloted in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina, with a national rollout planned for this summer. McDonald's would like to fill 250,000 jobs.
For the company, the program is also a way to boost diversity, said Melissa Kersey, McDonald's US Chief People Officer.
"Having a diverse and inclusive workforce is critical to success of business," she told CNN Business. "We believe age is also an important part of that."
With the labor market so tight, fast food chains have been getting creative in their attempts to attract workers. Earlier this month, Taco Bell announced that it would host nearly 600 "hiring parties" with free food, swag and Instagram-friendly photo props to help fill thousands of open jobs. The parties are planned for this week.
Companies may also be particularly interested in hiring older workers.
Susan Weinstock, vice president of financial resiliency programming at AARP, told CNN Business that about 1,000 companies including McDonald's have signed AARP's employer pledge program, which requires signatories to publicly state that they "recognize the value of experienced workers" and "recruit across diverse age groups." Major employers like Google, CVS, Macy's and others have signed the pledge.
"Over the last couple of years we've seen an acceleration of companies signing," Weinstock said. "I think the word is getting out about the quality of older worker," she added. "There's also a labor shortage, and so this is an opportunity for employers."
McDonald's plans to encourage members of other demographics to apply using different recruitment tactics moving forward, Kersey said.
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