Hospitality is the third largest employer in the UK, employing 2.9 million people and contributing a phenomenal £130bn to the UK economy. Surprised? Sadly, many of us associate hospitality jobs as stop-gaps with unsocial hours and no career opportunities. Think again. It’s a thriving industry, with a skills shortage, that’s crying out for good people.
And, don’t just think restaurants or hotels, the industry covers everything from pubs, bars, events, fine dining, visitor attractions, schools, universities and corporate dining. There’s a huge range of roles available within the sector too; bar manager, barista, supervisor, front of house manager, chef, events manager right through to roles in business development, HR and accountancy.
Amy-Lou Osborn, recruitment manager at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, will happily admit that she fell into hospitality, whilst studying for a Stage Management degree at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. The flexibility of her role at HA!HA! Bar & Grill enabled her to work around her studies and take time out for filming contracts when she later graduated. Always returning to hospitality between film jobs, she later realised hospitality was where she wanted to be. She worked her way up the ladder, working for high street restaurant brands such as Browns, Frankie and Benny’s and Bill’s, where she also headed-up recruitment for new restaurant openings. Today, at GBK, she is responsible for recruiting and onboarding up to 1000 team members across 93 restaurants in the UK and Ireland.
She told us what it’s like working in the industry, what it has to offer and how you get a foot in the door.
What’s it like working in the hospitality?
It’s so diverse – every day is different. It might sound obvious, but it’s most definitely people-focused. I’m not just talking about the customers, but the team – I’ve actually made life-long friends through work. Everyone works together, pitches in and enjoys what they do, with a common goal of keeping the customer happy.
Unfortunately, the industry is often under-represented and most people aren’t aware of the vast range of opportunities and career progression that’s available. I think a lot of people assume they know what it’s like and discount it.
So, what are the opportunities?
The reality is, is that there’s a huge amount of opportunities and experiences available. And, for the right people, hospitality can enable fast career progression. At GBK, for example, you can go from a starting salary of £7.85 an hour to £30K a year as a restaurant manager, within two years. I don’t think there’s many other industries that can offer that? In most other sectors, you’d be in an entry level job for two years, before there was any hint of development opportunities.
What do you think the hospitality industry offers that other industries don’t?
I think our industry is much more creative in the way we recruit. We know there’s not enough talent out there, so the traditional head-hunting approach doesn’t work – we’d just be competing for and swapping the same people. Here at GBK, we create and invest in talent. For us, it’s about finding the right people with the right attitude and core values and giving them the training and opportunities to grow with us.
Is hospitality a good option for working parents?
By its very nature, working in hospitality is based around flexible working, so is ideally suited to people looking to work in a flexible way. Unlike a 9-5 office job, you can switch shifts to get to sports day or the school play and evening and weekend shifts enable parents who might have a partner with a 9-5 job, the opportunity to work without incurring huge childcare costs. Ten or 15 years ago, I think hospitality would have been a big no-no for parents, but it fits with today’s lifestyles where everyone is looking for flexibility.
What qualities and skills are employers looking for?
It really depends on the employer. Because the industry is so diverse, there really is no one size fits all. At GBK, we employ people who hospitality comes as second nature, people who genuinely want to make someone happy. I can’t speak for the industry at large; every employer is different. But, given the current shortage of skilled workers, now is a good time to enter the industry as more and more employers are training from within with some offering apprenticeships, so you don’t necessarily need to have lots, or any previous experience.
So, how do you get a foot in the door?
It’s worth doing some homework, if it’s a path you’re considering. There are so many roles available across many brands and companies and not every company is right for every person. You might not enjoy working in a fine dining restaurant, but you might be a fantastic Barista in a coffee shop. Contact the big brands to see what the opportunities are but keep an eye on your doorstep too. There may be somewhere local to you that is happy to offer some on the job training. Just get stuck in and if it’s right for you, you’ll fly.
To find out more about working in Hospitality, see a full list of our latest roles HERE