Skills Dashboard


Hospitality and Tourism

Pinpointing Skills Needs rather than Delivering Generic Qualifications

Report Segment: Diversity of Sector

The hospitality and tourism sector is increasingly becoming an attractive proposition for a career, and young people can choose many different routes into the sector. Despite the recession, new hotel openings have continued at a pace throughout 2010 (BHA Trends & Developments 2010 p.42), and in the last decade, over 200,000 new jobs (net of replacement) were created in the UK sector (Oxford Economics – Economic contribution of UK hospitality industry Oct 2010 p.8). Whether one is thinking of: opening their own bar or B&B (self employment represents around 7% of the industry); joining a top class catering team; or more interested in the corporate ladder of a group like Whitbread (the UK’s largest hotel and restaurant company and owners of the Costa Coffee chain), there are low barriers to entry and good progression routes throughout the sector. More importantly, there are many routes through the sector into management positions.

People 1st have developed an interesting career map which demonstrates the complexity of the sector.

Within this complexity, colleges train people for jobs. Some employers find that those trained don’t necessarily fit their needs and they look outside the hospitality/tourism training system to source labour. This isn’t necessarily a sign that the system does not work. The service sector has always struggled to define its skills needs – and often aptitude (demonstrated on the ‘shop floor’), a bright attitude and flexibility will be more important than relevant qualifications for employers.

So the many routes into the hospitality and tourism sector along with the transience of the hospitality labour market means that colleges will always struggle to meet all employers needs. But a key job is being done by colleges nevertheless. They introduce young people to the sector - and they provide a potential trained workforce flow into the local economy. Students may end up in any one of the 14 sectors listed by People 1st. Catering qualifications (including the mandatory food safety certificates) provide opportunities for working in a range of kitchen environments. This could include catering outlets in schools, hospitals, and other workplaces, catering for events, pubs, cafes, hotels and restaurants, to mention just some of the options. Whilst some of these employers may have alternative recruitment routes, many will turn to the newly qualified people trained for the industry.

It is important to emphasise this diversity of employer need within the industry, otherwise stereotyping will continue to dog the sector. For example some employers completely bypass the local college output and see no obvious value for their business in the courses or the skills being delivered. But this is certainly not the case for all businesses. West Suffolk College, for example, cites many examples of employers recruiting, retaining and promoting ex-tourism/hospitality students.