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Catering and Hospitality

Catering and hospitality is an industry that is constantly changing and developing. It provides the public with food, drink and accommodation.

There are jobs at all levels, from senior management to assistant level. Many involve direct contact with members of the public. All are about providing good customer service.

Workers in the industry are often at their busiest during evenings, weekends and on public holidays, with many jobs involving long hours. This can sometimes be compensated by the flexibility that shift-work can offer. Many people in the industry work in clean, comfortable surroundings, but kitchen environments can be hot, humid and noisy.

Employers include:

  • hotels and guest houses
  • restaurants, pub restaurants and fast food outlets
  • pubs, clubs and bars, including bar facilities in hotels
  • theme parks, museums, art galleries and leisure resorts
  • schools, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes and railway, airport and cruise ship companies.

The economic downturn has affected job opportunities in some areas, although the sector continues to grow at a slow rate. Despite the current recession, there are still some areas of skills shortages, such as for skilled chefs. There are opportunities in the industry across the UK.

To work directly with customers, good communication skills are essential and, most importantly, staff need to enjoy giving good customer service. Many jobs require staff to be on their feet for much of the time. Whatever the job, the ability to work well in a team is important. Good organisational and problem-solving skills are essential for staff at management level.

Some jobs do not require formal entry qualifications, although employers usually look for evidence of basic literacy and numeracy skills. There are many relevant full-time courses to help people prepare for entry to the industry. A Diploma in hospitality, offered at some schools and colleges, could provide a starting point. Direct entrants to management positions have usually gained higher education qualifications, such as a degree, prior to entry.

Much training is on the job, and many employers offer structured training programmes or Apprenticeships. Many people gain work-related qualifications, such as NVQs, or qualifications offered by professional bodies. Training schemes may be available for graduates starting to work with larger companies.

With experience and, possibly, further qualifications, promotion may be possible in larger organisations to supervisory and management positions. Prospects with small employers may be more limited, and people may have to move between employers to progress. Once experienced, some people choose to set up their own business, for example a restaurant or small hotel