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Spotlight on: Working in hospitality and catering

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If playing a key role in helping customers relax and enjoy themselves appeals to you – or you’re just interested in food and feeding people – perhaps you’ll suit a role in hospitality or catering.

The future’s looking bright for these areas. The UK hospitality sector, in particular, created one in five of all new jobs between 2010 and 2014, and this figure is bound to increase further in the near future.

Plus, there’s huge variety, with roles on offer from a multitude of different employers including pubs, hotels, restaurants, leisure premises, NHS sites and residential homes as well as at events like festivals and conferences.

Here we highlight three sample jobs, plus some skills you’ll need to do well.

Job: Bar staff

Working as bar staff isn’t just about pulling pints. It’s true that this role is heavily people-facing - you’ll serve drinks and snacks and take clients’ payment via a till. But whether you’re part of a team based in a pub, hotel or event such as a festival or conference, it’ll also be about helping to deliver a fun and friendly experience.

As with most roles in hospitality and catering, being able to deliver great customer service is key. You’ll also need solid maths skills and to be on the ball (not everyone finds it easy to remember large orders made up of different drinks!)

The minimum age you can work in a bar is 18, and there are plenty of part-time and flexible roles available to fit around other commitments. With some experience, you could work your way up to team leader, assistant manager or manager.

Plus, it’s worth remembering that listing bar staff roles on your CV shows that you’re trustworthy, hardworking and a team player - not to mention able to work under stressful conditions. These are all competencies that future employees look for.

Pay is usually hourly at the national living wage (or national minimum wage if you’re under 25). The National Careers Service estimates the annual starting salary for bar staff at £11,000 to £17,000. This rises to £35,000 as an experienced bar manager.

Job: Chef

Busy commercial kitchens are hot, stressful places where standards are high and hours are long.

But if you have an unshakeable passion for food - not just eating it but preparing and serving it - and can stay calm in a very pressurised situation, you could enjoy a fulfilling career as a chef.

Chefs and cooks can work in a variety of locations, including hotels, restaurants, schools, and colleges, the NHS and at one-off events.

No qualifications are needed to start working in a kitchen, although having English and maths GCSEs are good starting points. An apprenticeship is another route into this sector.

The first rung on the ladder would be as a kitchen assistant or trainee chef. After gaining experience the next step could be section chef, then sous chef (second in command to the head chef), then finally the head chef itself.

According to the National Careers Service, trainee chefs are paid an average of £13,000, rising to £50,000 for an experienced head chef.

Job: Hospitality management

If you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of how a hotel, bar or restaurant not only works but thrives, perhaps a career in hospitality management appeals?

Working in the management team of a hotel, for example, could see you have a hand in all aspects of running the business, from dealing with staff and customers to housekeeping, building maintenance and budgets.

Managers in smaller hotels tend to be more hands-on, liaising with guests as well as overseeing the daily running of the premises.

But in a larger hotel, you’d have a specific remit running one department as part of a general management team.

These can be demanding roles that call for multi-tasking, a business mind and ability to work as a team - as well as lead one.

Larger hotel companies attract recruits through management trainee schemes, and an HND or a degree in hotel or hospitality management can help you in. Or you could work your way up from a more junior position within the same hotel.

According to the National Careers Service, a starter salary for a hotel manager is £20,000 to £35,000, rising to £60,000 if you’re highly experienced.

More information

You can find out more about these roles, as well as lots of other opportunities in hospitality and catering including permanent, temporary and live-in jobs, here.

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