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Background to the hospitality industry’s workforce

Since the middle of the twentieth century, in spite of
many economic ups and downs, the leading developed
nations of the world have seen many fundamental and
far-reaching changes within society. The major one,
with little doubt, must be a vast improvement in economic
wealth, which, in turn, has led to considerable
improvements in standards of living for the majority of
the people living and working in these countries. These
changes have involved improved productivity and a
redistribution of the workforce away from the primary
and secondary sectors into service industries and,
increasingly symbolic of the twenty-first century, into
knowledge (information) industries and occupations.
From the hospitality industry’s perspective, there are
many accompanying societal changes with great significance
for the industry’s operators. These include
increased disposable incomes, more time for leisure
(although it is reported that this trend is reversing in
some countries), easier and cheaper travel and, as a consequence
of improved lifestyles and medical services,
increased longevity, resulting in increasing populations
and demographic restructuring. Alongside this, the
media in their many different forms are informing and
shaping people’s behaviour as never before.
The contributions made by the hospitality industry to this general rise in standard
of living are considerable and varied, providing essential products and services,
leisure services, large-scale employment and wealth creation. Tourism, of which
the hotel and catering industry is a principal element, is now claimed to be the
world’s fastest growing industry and also one of the leading earners of foreign currency.
The total value of tourism to the UK in 2003 was estimated to be £76 billion,
with overseas visitors spending close to £12 billion of that figure in foreign
currency (British Hospitality Association, 2004). The value to the nation’s 2002
Gross Domestic Product of specific hospitality sector services was estimated at over
4%. The fact that millions of people eat meals at or near their places of work or
study, rather than at home, would not be possible without restaurants, cafés, public
houses, fast food and takeaway establishments and in-house catering facilities.
Furthermore the improved standard of living and increased discretionary income
enjoyed by the majority of people has resulted in many more being able to enjoy a
vast range of hospitality products which in earlier times were restricted to the affluent
in society.
Nevertheless, for many people these improvements have been accompanied by
a degree of economic polarization, with the differentials in wealth, earnings and
standards of living getting wider. In the past, efforts to protect the weakest or less
well-off have taken many forms, which included various approaches to minimumwage
regulation. Until the late 1980s this was achieved through statutory wages
councils. These councils set minimum conditions in industries where union power
and collective bargaining was particularly weak – a number of different sectors of
the hotel and catering industry being covered by wages councils. However, in the
1980s the Conservative government took the view that this mechanism interfered
with the free market economy, and disbanded wages councils. It was only in 1999,
following the return of a Labour government in 1997, that we saw the return to
statutory minimum wage (the National Minimum Wage) and maximum hours
regulation (the Working Time Directive).
The UK hospitality industry, with its ever-developing range of products and services,
has seen vast growth in recent years. The high streets of towns are now as
much a forum of branded restaurants and coffee houses as they are for general
retailers. Whilst there have been substantial technical improvements, and conditions
in the industry may have improved over what they were in the past, the relative
status of the industry as an employer, compared with other employers, has not
improved significantly. Admittedly at the top of the scale, some highly skilled workers
such as chefs, who are in short supply, can command very high incomes, but at
the other end of the scale, kitchen porters and cleaners, for example, would earn
considerably higher wages for broadly similar work in other employment sectors.
This is in spite of efforts being made by some of the larger companies in the industry
to improve conditions. Among the reasons must be the fact that most employees
only generate around £40,000 per year (based on data taken from Trends and
Statistics 2004, British Hospitality Association, 2004) for their employer and of this
between 10 and 40% will be taken up by labour costs, the remainder going towards
material costs, property costs, fixed costs and profit. With few exceptions, catering
services do not lend themselves easily to mechanization, although there are now
signs that significant changes in productivity may be forthcoming in the future. As a
result, the industry is heavily labour-intensive and labour costs dominate many
profit-and-loss accounts.


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  • Delete Guest (Sep 7 2010 05:13:08, Rate: 1 )

    Rate 1 Points
  • Delete Quote Guest (Apr 23 2010 02:51:42, Rate: 0 )

    The percentage hospitality generate in the economy
  • Delete Quote Guest (Apr 23 2010 02:51:04, Rate: 0 )

    The percentage hospitality generate in the economy
  • Delete Quote Guest (Apr 9 2010 02:42:13, Rate: 0 )

    how do i get your point
  • Delete Quote Guest (Mar 24 2010 03:51:30, Rate: 0 )

    how do i get usefull information
 

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