Relaxation is a Serious Business
The social side of life wouldn’t be much fun if the bars had no bar staff, the beds weren’t made up in hotels and no-one was in the kitchen making dinner when we went out. The hospitality and travel industries help fill those gaps, with career opportunities in everything from advising people on the right holiday for them, to pouring the drinks on Friday night.
Types of Apprenticeship
Apprenticeships include catering, cabin crew, housekeeping and hospitality management. It’s an area that offer opportunities to work in interesting locations all over the world.
About the Hospitality and Travel Industry
Over two million people are employed in the UK’s hospitality and travel industry. That number is only going to rise according to skills development charity People1st , which predicts that the industry will need more than 600,000 new employees by 2020. The workforce tends to be quite young, with lots of opportunities to move into senior positions before you’re thirty.
What can I do?
As Madonna once sang, taking a holiday can be so nice. But only if there are people to make it that way, so the hotel business makes up a big part of the industry. You could work in hotels of all shapes and sizes, from boutique city centre sites to huge resorts, doing anything from taking care of rooms to waiting tables, serving drinks, leading tours or taking bookings.
As well as holidays, the industry also caters for our nights out, business trips, special occasions and more. So you might start your career in a bar, pub or restaurant, preparing and serving food and drink, taking care of customers, handling money or perhaps managing the entire operation as a member of a front of house team.
On the travel side, your career might really soar with a job working for an airline, or get moving with a coach or rail company. Rewinding to the start of the process, you could be helping people book their tickets, giving them advice on where to go or making arrangements for leisure or business travel.
Hospitality and Travel Skills
Working in the industry demands a range of skills. If you’re working behind the scenes in a kitchen or hotel, for example, you’ll need to be able to work long hours in a physical job, and care about things like hygiene, detail – in anything from serving food to cleaning a bathroom – and working efficiently. If you’re in a customer service role, on the other hand, the focus will be on getting on with people and making sure they have a good experience.
No-one expects you to arrive with all your skills in place, though: you’ll develop them as you work and train in the industry. What you’ll need to start off with is a good attitude, a willingness to learn and a real passion for making sure the people you serve enjoy themselves.
Hospitality and Travel Careers
Here are just a few of the jobs available in the industry:
Food and drink – Kitchen Assistant, School Cook, Chef, Waiter, Bar staff
Hotel and B&B – Hospitality Services Assistant, Housekeeper, Receptionist, Front of House staff
Travel and tourism – Travel consultant, Customer Service Adviser, Bookings Administrator, Resort Rep, Cabin Crew, Activity Instructor (sailing, swimming, children’s games etc.)
In almost all cases there are pathways to more senior roles, including management positions, as well as the chance to move between sites and work in different locations. You could also switch jobs with the seasons – perhaps being a beach resort rep in summer, and a housekeeper in chalets at a ski resort in winter.
Alternatively, you might be able to get (or perhaps you already have) a job in the hospitality sector with an employer who offers apprenticeship schemes. Speak to them and see if it’s the right thing for you.
As well as apprenticeships, routes into the hospitality and travel industry include:
- Vocational qualifications/A Levels
- Scottish Vocational Qualifications
- Foundation Degrees (England and Wales only)
- Bachelors Degrees
Earn and Learn
If you’re feeling hospitable and the industry appeals, an apprenticeship can be a great option. They normally last between two and three years, depending on the level you’re aiming for.
Hospitality and travel apprentices train by working for an employer, getting paid while they develop the skills they’ll need for the future. They also go to college, either on day release or through online study, to pick up nationally-recognised qualifications that will help them travel on up the career ladder.
Apprenticeships in the industry include:
- Travel services
- Cabin crew
- Assistant chef
- Activity leader
- Head of reception
- Silver service waiter
You might be an apprentice for a travel company, or perhaps a large, prestigious city hotel that hosts award ceremonies, charity banquets and visiting celebrities. Or you could work in bars, pubs, clubs and a host of great eating venues anywhere in the world.
Levels of Apprenticeship
Hospitality and travel apprenticeships are generally available at two levels:
Level Two (Intermediate) – equivalent to GCSEs / Standard Grades
Level Three (Advanced) – equivalent to A Levels / Highers
A Level Two Apprenticeship takes two years to complete, then you can continue for another year to achieve Level Three.
Life as a Hospitality and Travel Apprentice
It’s never going to be dull working in this industry. You’ll meet lots of different people; build up a range of skills; be involved in anything from small, intimate gatherings to huge, fancy shindigs; and perhaps have the chance to travel the world while you’re at it.
What will I be doing?
There’s no one path through an industry as diverse as this one. There isn’t even a regular working day: while many jobs stick to office hours (usually around 9am to 6pm), people in hospitality and travel might work late nights, early mornings, or alternate between the two. If you work as airline cabin crew and hop over time zones, you might even find that your shift technically ends before it started. Now there’s an odd one.
You’ll be part of a team in any role in the industry. You might join a crew in a kitchen, a team of waiters, an office of travel agents…there are lots of options. You’ll begin to learn about the working world, how to get along with people, and how to manage your time.
As well as this you’ll be developing technical skills relevant to your job, devised by your employer in partnership with your college. You’ll also take care of your own money – you’ll be getting paid, after all – and enjoy life outside of work. With excellent chances of progressing quickly to more senior roles, you could be well on the way to a fine career in no time.