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Career Options in Hospitality & Tourism: School Leaver

What is the industry about?

Fancy yourself as the next Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey? Or perhaps you reckon you could start your own hotel chain and provide the best service in town? The hospitality and tourism industry is for you. Be warned though, the industry can be more demanding than it sounds. It’s not all about leisurely making your favourite cupcakes on a Saturday afternoon, the hours in the hospitality and tourism industry can be long and unsociable.

The industry is huge, with 1.7 million people currently employed wither waiting tables, being a chef, cleaning rooms, managing hotels or hostels or organising tourist events such as city tours. As well as picking up some sweet culinary skills, a career or job in the hospitality and tourism will sharpen your communication and organisational skills. Just think about how many people you would encounter if you provided a guided tour of a museum – your communication skills are bound to flourish!

A job in this industry could see you being on your feet and active most of the time; you can’t just lounge around stirring a curry dish whilst browsing Facebook or Twitter!

What opportunities are available to me?

- Part-time work

- Intermediate Apprenticeships

- Advanced Apprenticeships

- Higher Apprenticeships

- Further education

On-the-job training will most likely be provided for a specific role so you could get yourself some experience in the hospitality and tourism industry by taking on part-time work at the weekend. You could see yourself working as a barista meaning that you’ll never taste a bad coffee again or you could wait tables at a local café just to get some work experience and money in the bank.

If you’re looking to develop a career in the hospitality and tourism then an Intermediate, Advanced or Higher Apprenticeship may be the choice for you.

If you know you can make a tasty, healthy meal from scratch and want to join the ranks of highly trained chefs, you could undertake an Intermediate Apprenticeship specialising in a cuisine of your choice, be it Indian, Bangladeshi, Chinese or Thai. This will allow you to gain practical experience whilst being paid but will also give you the opportunity to learn the theory behind the dishes you create. Alternatively you could take an Intermediate Apprenticeship to learn how to become a silver service waiter or a travel adviser to holiday-goers.

Advanced Apprenticeships are also available to school leavers wanting to enter the hospitality and tourism industry. Fancy yourself as a senior chef in fine dining or a pastry chef? Perhaps you want to be part of an airline cabin crew? Advanced Apprenticeships are available for these types of roles, so get applying!

Higher Level Apprenticeships in the hospitality and tourism sector are available though many will require school leavers to be able to demonstrate that they have a lot of experience in supervisory roles, leading a team or being in charge of a department. This is because the roles available are those such as deputy general managers or front office managers of restaurants, nightclubs, hotels and bars.

You could also proceed to further and higher education, studying subjects that you enjoy and will provide you with the transferable skills such as communication and problem solving. Degree programs are available in hospitality and tourism management that allow you to study a blend of business management studies with specific modules on the hospitality and tourism industry. This is ideal if you fancy a career in the hospitality and tourism industry but want the experience of being a student.

Setting the school leaver record straight?

You might think the only way to enter the hospitality and tourism industry is through becoming a restaurant pot washer and struggling your way to the top. However, with the industry needing people to be properly trained in food preparation and preservation, there are plenty of opportunities for those wishing to be chefs. Additionally, there are also apprenticeships available for those wanting to be a trip adviser or specialise in tourism. You can earn yourself a tidy £12,000-£16,000 salary too, which can go up to £20,000 or much higher if you start your own business.

Formal education: should I stay or should I go?

Many people view the hospitality and tourism industry as one that you get into through part-time work or hobbies whilst studying other subjects such as business. However, this is not the case and you can pursue a full-time career in hospitality and tourism by undertaking an Apprenticeship in a role of your choice. This will give you an advantage over those entering the industry later as you will have more experience and contacts.

Therefore formal education isn’t necessary as you can enter the industry at any level following your GCSEs