Which Skills Are in High Demand in The Hospitality Industry and Why?

Hospitality is a vibrant and varied industry. In London alone, hospitality businesses are as diverse as the city they call home, with bars and restaurants specialising in cuisines from across the globe. The diversity of these roles also requires hospitality workers to have a diverse set of skills. One restaurant can radically differ from the next, whether it’s in preparing food, making drinks, setting tables, or the myriad of roles that make up a hospitality service. Freelance hospitality workers who take on missions in a variety of hospitality venues will attest to how working in one team is never quite the same as the next - each has its charm and its ways of working. 

Within every hospitality business, there is also a vibrant team working differing jobs, again each with their own skill sets forging their unique careers. This is true in restaurants and bars, cafes, hotels, and everything in between - from front-of-house and customer-facing roles to back-of-house kitchen staff, to cleaners and porters, supervisors, management and ownership - these positions may all come under the great hospitality umbrella, but the skills needed to become successful in these roles are radically different. 

The Hospitality Skills Gap 

According to data reported by People1st, the hospitality sector is suffering from a lack of skilled personnel. 21% of hospitality and tourism businesses report that their existing staff lack essential skills - this is 6% higher than the national average in all other UK industries. This skills gap is in large part caused by high levels of labour turnover, which costs the sector £274m annually. Retention has always been difficult for an industry which leans so heavily on transient workers, whilst recruitment also eats into the budget allocated for training and development.

Staff being new to the role was the most common reason for these high rates of skill gaps (63%), followed by training being only partially completed (61%). If we look into the individual industries within the sector, hotels are most likely to report skill gaps with 3 out of 10 employers reporting them; significantly higher than the sector average. 

Skill gaps are higher for customer-facing roles, with 61% of hospitality and tourism businesses reporting a lack of customer service skills. It is concerning that so many businesses are reporting skill gaps in this area, given the importance of adequately serving guests in the sector.

Among the most desired skills are: customer handling, planning and organisation, time management, teamwork, oral communication, and problem solving, as well as technical and job-specific skills in food and drink preparation. 

UKHospitality Pairs with UK Government on Hospitality Employment Scheme

The UK government has recently announced plans to implement a new hospitality training pathway in collaboration with UKHospitality, “designed to fill vacancies in the hospitality sector and create the next generation of hospitality leaders”. The pilot scheme is set to be rolled out across other cities in the UK to address labour shortages with over 120,000 vacancies currently in the sector.

The new employment scheme, which has launched in Liverpool, has been designed to upskill and match job seekers with vacant hospitality roles. It offers fast-tracked training and work experience, with skills outlined by UKHospitality including health and safety, food safety, licensing, and conflict resolution. 

Upon completing the course participants will earn an industry-recognised Hospitality Skills Passport – “a digital pass which can be added to CVs to show employers jobseekers have the skillset required by the sector. They will also receive training in confidence and assertiveness to build personal skills and strength.”

People who enrol in the scheme will be guaranteed an interview with a potential employer.

What Soft Skills Are Needed to Become Successful In Hospitality?

There are some skills which are essential across the board for hospitality roles - these include communication and interpersonal skills, time management, adaptability, flexibility, teamwork, organisation, intuitive thinking, attention to detail, and above all else, the desire to provide great customer service. 

These soft skills will appear on nearly every description for a hospitality job listing, and that is because they make up the stock for a great hospitality worker. Whether it’s in a restaurant, bar, cafe or hotel, the desire to provide a great experience for the customer is perhaps the most important trait for a hospitality worker, second is to be able to work well in a team. Almost every job within the hospitality industry involves teamwork, whether it's in the kitchen or front of the house, to create the best customer experience. Without effective teamwork, customers won’t experience the quality service that they expect. This is where communication and interpersonal skills become so crucial. 

Hospitality work can also be fast-paced, unpredictable and even a little chaotic - so adaptability, flexibility, intuition and problem-solving skills are all prized personality traits. Time management skills are essential. You will be expected to be able to think on your feet and adapt at a moment’s notice, whether it's adapting to guests' dietary needs, or adapting to unforeseen problems, such as produce orders not arriving or changing last minute.   

Finally, attention to detail is a must when it comes to hospitality, to ensure that customer service is not only of top quality but that this quality is consistent, to make sure that standards are staying consistent. Attention to detail is also a great trait when it comes to being on top of hazards and other health and safety points. If you have experience in dealing with hazards, or you are food, hygiene and first-aid trained, be sure to include this on your CV.  

Developing Hospitality Skills Through Apprenticeships and Training 

The hospitality industry has often struggled to advertise career progression, and it is one of the biggest reasons many people leave hospitality roles to pursue other industries where progression is more clearly signposted. However, the industry is working hard to amend this, and the sector is working to create more of a culture around upskilling, training and progression. 

Industry leaders UKHospitality have developed many schemes to aid progression in the industry. Namely, their apprenticeship scheme which was developed in conjunction with the UK Government and the Department of Education is advertised in colleges and schools up and down the country. These apprenticeships allow young people to pick up hard skills and experience in the hospitality industry - apprenticeships play a critical role in developing future generations of talent and offer an exciting way to learn practical skills on the job.

UKHospitality has also implemented a scheme to engage with over-50s to fill the vacant hospitality positions. Many people over the age of 50 want to find work and are unfairly blocked because of their age from securing positions in new industries. However, with the help of schemes like this, even inexperienced people can get the hard skills they need to get a role within the hospitality industry. 

UKHospitality says that “people over 50 years old have been historically underrepresented in hospitality businesses and with an additional 1 million workers over the age of 50 in the UK workforce by 2025, businesses should be ensuring their recruitment practices allow them to recruit from this pool.” 

Level-Up and Internships

Here at Brigad, we have our own Level-Up Programme which recognises good work and allows talents to access more senior roles once they have proven mastery of their current expertise and met certain criteria, including positive feedback from businesses. To unlock the Level-Up Programme, talents must first:

  • Be a Brigad user for a minimum of 90 days
  • Have at least 90% of your clients say they want to work with you again
  • Have completed at least 10 missions in the last 90 days in the role of your current skill level.

For example, if you have been a user of Brigad for 90 days, done at least 10 missions as a commis chef, and have outstanding feedback from 90% of your clients, you will then unlock the Level-Up Programme and now be eligible to receive missions as a line cook. 

Many restaurants will also offer internships. These positions are short-term, perhaps only a few days or a week. Still, they are great for people who want to get a taste of working in the hospitality industry, and are especially popular for newly qualified staff who want to garner experience in high-end establishments to begin building their CV. Of course, these internships can be competitive, but it is up to you to make connections with the team and begin building that bridge to step over to start working in the industry and forge your career. 

UpSkill Through Brigad

If you are looking for ways to upskill, then take a look at the missions available on the Brigad App. The listed missions are varied and offer you the chance to learn new skills and pick up experience in a variety of venues.

Interested in joining the Brigad network of self-employed professionals? Contact the Brigad team today. 

(figures and statistics provided by People1st)

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