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The Hospitality Industry



The hospitality industry is probably the world�s
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.


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. That�s 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

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-house
services, although this could be offset by an
increase in outsourcing to contract caterers
(source: Hospitality Training Foundation).


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 won�t be
ready for the January deadline, which is when
liability will shift to businesses to cover the cost of
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
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).


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.

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