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The impact of Brexit on careers within the British hospitality industry

The result of the Brexit referendum, and the plans to implement it, continue to cause waves of uncertainty across all industries throughout the UK.

 Given the nature of the hospitality and tourism industry, this uncertainty is something being felt keenly by our sector.

Hospitality and tourism is currently the fourth largest industry in the UK, representing hotels, self-catering accommodation, restaurants and attractions among many others. With such a broad scope of business types falling under its umbrella, it contributes a huge £143billion to the UK economy, employing a total of 4.49million people.

Furthermore, according to statistics from the British Hospitality Industry (BHA), since 2010 our industry has been responsible for creating one in five of all new jobs in the UK and is on track to deliver a further 100,000 by the end of the decade.

Within these broader figures, an estimated 700,000 (15%) of the 4.5 million people that currently work in the sector are from the European Union. Between 2011 and 2015, the number of migrant workers increased by 22 per cent, with the majority of these coming from EU countries.

However, due to Britain’s decision to leave the EU, the number of people from overseas applying for new jobs within our industry is falling. Not only that, recent statistics from the Office of National Statistics estimates that 130,000 EU nationals emigrated in the year to September – the highest level in a decade.

In a report covering the exodus, the BBC stated that of the number of EU nationals who are arriving in the UK, fewer are coming for “work-related reasons”, particularly to “look for work”.

This is a concerning statistic. With such a large number of people from the EU making up a core proportion of British hospitality workers, we need to look at potentially replacing them, should they too decide to leave the UK. But as an organisation, our members often tell us that one of their biggest challenges with junior employees is changing their perception of their role as a 'job' to a 'career'. This is often in contrast to continental workers, many of whom see hospitality as an honourable, lifelong profession and one they can take pride in.

With the influx of European workers showing signs of slowing, there is a risk that this ‘job’ rather than ‘career’ attitude could become more widespread in the industry as we turn to UK workers to make up the shortfall. The way to prevent this outlook from permeating is education. It is critical that organisations like ours work with young people to highlight the many opportunities a career in hospitality can offer them, while offering the training and encouragement to pursue these opportunities. We need to do what we can to demonstrate the worth of a career in hospitality.

Indeed, following his recent appointment as HOSPA President, Harry Murray MBE, chairman of Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa, said he was ‘delighted’ to have been appointed to lead the association at a time when “retaining, attracting and developing talented people is vital to the future success of the British hospitality industry”.

Mr Murray, who has been working in the hospitality industry for over 50 years, said: “For me, hospitality is the best industry in the world and we should be proud of the high standards we have achieved in the UK during the past 25 years. This is an industry where you can start at the bottom and go right to the top of the profession and we have to get that message across.”

As we’ve mentioned, a career in hospitality offers endless opportunities. From front-of-house to finance and revenue management, unlike many industries, hospitality truly allows people to start on the bottom rung of the career ladder and work their way to the very top. With such varied career options and scope for progression, the hospitality industry also offers limitless possibilities to gain and develop universal skills that can be applied across the job spectrum.

This is why education is so important to the future of the hospitality industry – ensuring that young people entering the world of work see hospitality as a viable career option. Once they’re in, the opportunities do not end there. Continued Professional Development (CPD) is a huge bonus in teaching and developing skills that benefit employees in their chosen profession, which can then be applied to any industry they work in.

Our courses help hospitality’s Finance, Revenue Management and IT professionals develop their careers, network with colleagues and keep up-to-date with industry trends and developments. They are based on best practice and are designed to help learners advance within the hospitality sector.

James Bland, Stock Controller & Accounts Assistant, at The Cairn Hotel Group said of his experience on a HOSPA course: "The course has given me the confidence in my own abilities and provided me with a range of skills and techniques which will allow me to further my career in accounts."

Bethany Parker, Assistant Revenue Manager, Glasgow Cluster, Principal Hotels also said of her experience: “The HOSPA course has helped to develop my knowledge of Revenue Management and it has been really interesting learning the theory behind the practice. I’ve learned lots of new theories, skills and techniques and look forward to implementing them into my day to day work. Completing the course has definitely enhanced my skillset and developed my confidence in Revenue Management."

Those interested in pursuing a career in hospitality can enrol at any time for the March or September education programmes in Financial Management and Revenue Management. If you would like further information, please contact the Professional Development Team on 01202 889430. To enrol, please email or complete and submit the application form online at


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