Accessibility options | A A A | text only


The Job Market


  • According to the British Hospitality Association in 2010, over two million people work in hospitality and catering, making it the UK's fifth biggest industry. Hospitality also plays a vital part in the success of the huge UK tourism industry

  • The concentration of hotels and restaurants in a particular location depends on a few factors, including how touristy it is and whether or not many businesses are situated there. Major cities and towns tend to have the most opportunities.

  • In terms of the number of staff, the restaurant sector is the largest work area and the hotel sector the smallest.  Job-wise, kitchen and catering assistants are the most plentiful grouping, and hotel porters one of the smallest

  • As well as restaurants, cafes and fast food establishments, the contract catering market – which provides food services to places like schools, hospitals, exhibition centres and entertainment venues – is a major employer with around 140,000 staff plus around 100,000 'casuals'. It's currently worth around £4bn a year.

  • The hospitality industry employs many young workers, many part time workers and many international workers. Including other parts of the leisure and tourism sector, around a third of the staff are made up of under-25s and around 50% of people work part time  In London, around 80% of staff are from overseas (according to the British Hospitality Association)

  • Particularly in the accommodation sector, the self-employed are an important part of the industry, e.g. family-run bed and breakfast establishments. 

  • Most employers are small - the vast majority have 10 or fewer employees although the brand hotel groups (Marriot, Hilton, Accor, etc), for instance, often have over 100 staff. Major hotel chains are more likely to offer organised training including graduate training programmes than are smaller hotels although smaller hotels may provide the chance to get involved in a wider variety of tasks.

  • Hotels with branches abroad may offer the opportunity to transfer.

  • The success or otherwise of the industry is affected by many factors: the cost of staff, rents, the cost of food/other resources, the state of the economy (people cutting down on socialising), the cost of the pound (attracts/discourages overseas tourists), social upheaval (riots, terrorism), environmental issues (floods, foot and mouth disease in farm animals) and high car parking charges (which could affect city restaurants in particular)

  • Hours can be unsocial and, although some staff are very well paid, low pay is common. This could account for the high staff turnover in parts of the industry.

  • Along with a shortage of staff in general, there are particular problems in attracting skilled managers and skilled chefs