The Food Service Industry: Jobs, Skills and Job Outlook
The Food Service industry encompasses all those professions involved in preparing food and serving it to the general public. It includes people working in restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars, as well as a vast range of other establishments in which food and drink is consumed, such as pizzerias, fast food outlets, fish and chip shops and ice cream parlours - not to mention mass catering operations such as company, school and hospital canteens and cafeterias and businesses providing banqueting and catering services.
The food service sector offers large numbers of vacancies in a variety of positions, including food preparation, bar service and waiting roles. In certain cases, some kind of specific hospitality training may be required, but there are also positions open to candidates with no experience.Seasonal contracts are common in the sector, particularly in restaurants, bars and hotels and other eating and drinking establishments situated in tourist locations.
What types of businesses operate in the Catering and Food Service sector?
A broad variety of businesses operate in the Food Service industry, including small family-run dining establishments, fast food chains, canteens and catering firms, restaurants and cafes serving cuisine from all over the world, pizzerias, pubs, clubs and bars, takeaways, ice cream parlours, tea houses and coffee shops. In addition, restaurants and bars can also be found in hotels, country clubs and casinos and on cruise ships.
While smaller food establishments tend to offer their workers a greater degree of flexibility, the career prospects are often better at larger dining venues, which may offer international employment opportunities and serve as a springboard for a long-term career in the food service industry.
Companies hiring in the Food Service industry:
Food Service Industry - Trends and Job Outlook
Job prospects in the Food Service sector are generally positive, with serious downturns in the industry practically unheard of.
The enduring popularity of eating out is reflected in the widespread presence in towns and cities of dining, drinking and takeaway establishments of all kinds. As an industry that is constantly evolving and alive to the latest trends, there is no shortage of restaurants offering customers the chance to sample innovative or experimental cuisine, but equally, less adventurous diners will also generally have a choice of establishments offering more conservative fare - particularly in areas with strong local culinary traditions - not to mention a vast range of options in between.
A wide range of social, cultural and economic factors influence the dining habits of the general public, producing a knock-on effect on the offerings and practices of the food service industry. Among the key tendencies to have emerged in recent years are an increased focus on food quality and how ingredients are sourced, as well as the emergence of a number of new business models, such as online food delivery platforms.
To sum up, the food service trade is constantly evolving and expanding, with new jobs and professions being created as market operators seek to respond to the changing tastes of the restaurant-going public.
What skills are required in the Food Service sector?
The key skills required to work in the Food Service industry include:
Customer service mindset
The entire Food Service sector basically revolves around satisfying the customer. Cooks, chefs, dishwashers and other back-of-the-house staff all need to be focused on providing a top quality service, but staff in client-facing roles in particular bear a special responsibility for ensuring diners go away happy and content.
Speed and stamina
The majority of Food Service industry positions involve working standing up for long periods at a time and often performing several different tasks at once. Consequently, the ability to complete tasks quickly and effectively is essential for both food preparation and waiting staff.
The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is a key skill for both front and back-of-the-house personnel. Waiters and Maitre D’s need to be able to interact with a restaurant’s customers, while for cooks and chefs, communications skills are vital for ensuring that things run smoothly in the kitchen.
Attention to detail
As any good Food Service worker knows, an eye for the small details - say, a lovingly garnished dish, carefully served glass of wine or a neat, organized and well-stocked storeroom - can make all the difference.
Every position in the food service industry has its own specific sphere of expertise. Chefs should be able to prepare dishes to perfection and present them impeccably; waiters need table setting and food service skills; while for restaurant and food & beverage managers, administrative and accounting skills are essential.
Restaurants - Job Descriptions
Still not sure if a job in the Food Service industry is right for you?
Take a look at the job descriptions we’ve prepared: