A new way to think about hospitality careers

The hospitality industry is quite a broad industry that is focussed on customer satisfaction and in the UK is quite often seen as an industry that provides millions of jobs but very few careers. Young people and indeed society views this type of work as perfect for gap years, weekend work or stop gaps, it is rarely viewed as a viable career option. Despite this, society is the first to shout when it receives bad service.

Hospitality is also hugely important to the Scottish economy. According to a 2016 document produced by the British Hospitality Association, hospitality in Scotland directly employs 245,000 people (with a further 67,000 jobs supported in the supply chain), and generates £4.3bn in Gross Value Added for the Scottish economy.

Typically, the first industry that visitors to an area encounter is the hospitality industry, whether that’s staying in hotels, eating in restaurants or cafés or visiting a tourist attraction. We all use hospitality businesses, whether for business or leisure. So why do we view it the way we do and how can we change attitudes to this? Do we look down at those who serve us?

I hear you saying well the hours are long, the pay is low and there are no career prospects!

Think again! Hospitality businesses right across the region are actively helping their staff to have a better work life balance. They are also training their staff to exceedingly high standards, putting many young people through apprenticeships, college or university, sending them to other establishments in other regions for work experience and giving them the opportunity for career progression. Many are also paying well over the minimum wage, because they value and seek to invest in their staff.

So what are the other positives of working in the industry? Providing “Service with a Smile” – making somebody happy and enjoy their experience – can bring huge personal satisfaction and studies indicate that opportunities to serve others result in a stronger sense of purpose and meaning in life. People are more and more discerning with their disposable income and when they want some leisure time to relax, you can make or break that. When you’re in the business of creating fun, you can be sharing in it, meeting and greeting a diverse range of people. You might be the face of the hotel, impressing diners with your culinary skills or serving. No two days are ever the same and you can quite often use your creative side to go that ‘extra mile’ for customers.

With society always needing leisure time, hospitality is a safe career choice. So next time you are using the hospitality industry, maybe view those who are serving you a little different. And if you are a young person or an adult mentoring or advising a young person, why not investigate your local hospitality business and see what’s on offer? You may well be surprised at where a career in hospitality can take you!


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