Food by VICE

Why Don't Brits Want to Work in Food Service Anymore?

New numbers show that about 33 percent fewer people are applying for jobs in the UK's hospitality industry compared to last year. What, no one wants free drinks anymore?

by Munchies Staff
Aug 10 2015, 3:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Shawn Hoke

Sure, there might not be as many jobs in print media as there used to be. Or in manufacturing fax machines, for instance, or auto industry jobs in Detroit. But one sector that has always seemed to have room for more in terms of employment is the service industry. Everybody's got to eat, right? And for everyone ordering a cheeseburger, there's got to be a worker to get it from the grill to their mouth.

Well, yeah. But in the UK, jobs within hospitality that were once fought over fiercely are now lacking that bloodthirsty competition. Fewer people, it seems, are vying for them.

READ: I'm Fugly, and I Won't Be Your Waiter Tonight

A new report from recruiting website CV-Library reveals that as of last month, an average of 18.7 people were applying for any given hospitality industry job—which sounds high, until you consider that just one year previous, about 27 applications were received for each position. That's about a 33 percent drop over the course of a single year.

What gives? Why doesn't anyone want to get down with flexible hours and free drinks anymore under the Queen's watch?

It could be an issue of perception. Ufi Ibrahim—chief executive of the British Hospitality Association—told industry website BigHospitality that the BHA is working on several campaigns to reel people back toward the exciting world of food and hotel service. Or trying, anyway.

Ibrahim hopes that collaborations with the Department of Work and Pensions, National Apprenticeship Service, and other groups can "[show] how people can quickly build a successful management career that can take you anywhere in the world." (This might be easier to argue for, say, a fairly high-level job in fine dining or fancy hotels than for a gig scooping ice cream at the Krazie Kreamery.)

Last March, industry reports also indicated that the hospitality world was the third-highest in the UK when ranked by need for contract or temporary staff. But the industry, by all counts, is thriving. The BHA reports that the industry feeds some £4.25 billion into the economy annually, and as of 2013 was the source of about 131,600 "career-building jobs" in food and service management.

READ: A Waiter Can Only Smile So Much Before He Snaps

With its unemployment rate standing at about 5.6 percent—recently undergoing its first increase in two years—the UK definitely has thirsty jobhunters on the loose. Maybe the key is all in perception; instead of thinking of a role as a waiter or caterer as a filler for things to come, it's due time for service industry jobs to be thought of as culturally legitimate and full of potential.

At least, that's what recruiters are hoping.