The Hospitality Industry

Size and Scope of the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry is probably the worlds fastest-growing, job-creating profession, employing one in ten people worldwide. In the UK alone, the industry employs over 1.8 million people.

It is estimated that the industry will require 30,000-35,000 trained people at management and  supervisory level year on year until 2010, if it is to fulfil its potential. There are currently too few students taking college and university courses in hospitality to sustain this requirement. You can imagine, therefore, that there is enormous scope for those who want to pursue a career in the industry, plus a huge range of employment opportunities across the varied subsectors. You might want to manage a hotel, run a restaurant or become the next Jamie Oliver, or maybe your interests lie in accountancy or information technology. You may want to start your own business or be part of an international one.

Whatever your talents, the hospitality industry offers variety and opportunity.

The Hospitality Industry


Structure of the Hospitality Industry

Hotels – range from small, independent country hotels to luxury five-star hotels. There are around 48,000 of them in the UK and they employ some 250,000 people at all skills levels. Thats 17% of the total number of hospitality workers. According to figures from TRI Hospitality Consulting, hotel occupancy levelled off in October 2004, but the rise in room rates will allow UK hotels to achieve the forecast annual growth in the coming year.

(source: Caterer and Hotelkeeper, December 2004).

Restaurants – this subsector includes take-away food outlets, fine dining, ethnic restaurants and coffee bars. It remains relatively resilient, as even in an economic downturn, people still enjoy eating out and their taste in food is eclectic. There are around 106,500 outlets, employing more than 500,000 full and part-time staff. 70% of businesses are owner-operated with the other 30% owned by groups such as The Restaurant Group and Whitbread. The larger groups offer management training schemes to graduates.

Pubs, club and bars – the licensed retail sector is worth £20 billion and it currently employs over 900,000 people in total. There are around 64,000 on-licensed premises in the UK. They range from small, country pubs to large, city nightclubs and bars (source: British Institute of Innkeepers website).

Labour turnover is high mainly due to the large number of students employed and there is a high proportion of part-time staff. However, promotion can be quick and branded chains can offer excellent management opportunities.

Contract catering – any catering business unit that is separately operated and managed. Some of the outlets supplied by contract caterers are schools, hospitals, local authority and in-company catering and food services. It is a rapidly expanding subsector of the industry and is dominated by a handful of large players. The newest of these to emerge is BaxterStorey, which was created in 2004 and now forms the fifth largest contract caterer in the UK.

Hospitality services – incorporates all those working in establishments where hospitality is not the main function and is not contracted out. Areas include medical, educational, industrial, retail, culture/sport, public administration and transport. Future growth is linked to the strength of the economy and, therefore, the demand for in-houseservices, although this could be offset by an increase in outsourcing to contract caterers.

(source: Hospitality Training Foundation).

Hospitality Career


Current Issues Facing the Hospitality Industry

Chip and PIN is a big issue facing the hospitality industry at the moment. It was introduced recently  to help reduce card crime and latest figures show that 60% of cardholders now have chip and PIN cards. While the major hotel groups are advanced in their plans to implement chip and PIN in the spring of 2005, small restaurant owners and independent operators are not as well prepared.

Many of them feel that they need more time to get to grips with the new technology and they wont be ready for the January deadline, which is when liability will shift to businesses to cover the cost of fraud.

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), which recently came into force, requires employers to make “reasonable adjustments” to their premises to make them accessible to disabled users. What constitutes “reasonable adjustments” can vary from one premise to another but small hotels are unlikely to be expected to undergo large-scale renovations. They will, however, have to be very clear about the services they can offer their prospective clients. This could be a great business
opportunity for the hospitality industry, a chance to broaden its customer base by making businesses not only attractive to those with disabilities but also to other groups such as the elderly, people with young families and those with temporary mobility problems.

The Licensing Act of 2003 is going through the transitional phase and is due to come into force in November 2005. The new law represents a fundamental change to the existing licensing laws.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) says that it will mean greater choice and more flexibility and will give local people real power to say when their local pub can open. However, a recent survey conducted by the BBPA shows that, of its members – which represent 60% of the UK’s bars and pubs, very few intend to open for the full 24 hours. These changes will inevitably impact on work patterns and increase the cost of labour.

Arguably the biggest issue facing the sector today is that of skills shortages. Skilled chefs and managers are in great demand and staff turnover remains high. Managers in the industry need a whole range of competences: people management; commercial skills and business acumen; problem-solving;  succession planning; and resource planning. There is also a need to develop knowledge of industry trends and foster innovative skills to secure and keep repeat business. Recruiting, training and retaining quality staff into these positions is a current priority.

The mission statement of Springboard UK is to educate people about career and job opportunities in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism to meet the industry’s staffing needs and the aspirations of potential recruits. To achieve this, they host a variety of promotional events throughout the year see their website for more information.

The Skills Strategy White Paper, launched in July 2003, is intended to provide a qualifications framework for industry by developing a network of Sector Skills Councils. Currently, there are 21 of  these and People 1st has been licensed as the Sector Skills Council for the hospitality industry. It is hoped that by using a common system of credits throughout the industry, employees will be able to transfer their learning from one subsector to another, without having to repeat what they have
already learned

(source: the DfES website).

Graduate Recruitment

Degrees in a hospitality-related discipline are preferred but many employers will accept  candidates from other disciplines so long as they have experience in a hospitality environment. Most  hospitality degrees develop experience through industrial placements and many students can gain relevant experience through part-time and vacation work. Whilst not essential, language skills can be a bonus when applying.

Of course, degree classification is important but it is the work experience and understanding of the sector alongside key skills that employers seek most. It is unlikely that high emphasis is given to A-level grades when recruiting.