How catering has all the ingredients for a rewarding career

How catering has all the ingredients for a rewarding career

With chronic shortages of staff and a younger generation that seems to be ignoring the catering and hospitality industry, Bill Brogan, catering & conference manager at St John’s College, Cambridge, rehearses the arguments that need to be made to persuade the millennial generation to think again.

The situation in many parts of the country, Cambridge Colleges included, is becoming serious as we find ourselves unable to fill vacancies or persuade school or college leavers to consider entering the industry.

As a consequence of falling demand and lack of funding, some catering colleges who have excellent reputations for high quality training have now closed including Bedford, Accrington and Nelson.

Training is key to the lifeblood of our industry and our colleges are proud to work with Westminster College, Kendal College and Cambridge Regional College.

So let’s not focus on the negative but take a look at some of the benefits of choosing to pursue a career in hospitality.

On-going training

One of the key advantages of working in catering is receiving on-going training to expand your skillset. An apprenticeship combines academic qualifications with on-the-job experience, continuing to learn as your career progresses.

Many employers provide regular opportunities to undergo both internal and external training courses in subjects as diverse as management training, front of house skills, wine appreciation and service, vegan cookery and allergy awareness.

Food study days and visits to markets such as Borough Market in London and Rungis in Paris can help to broaden experience. Work placements are very beneficial and at St John’s College we welcome two French students from the Grenoble Hotel School each year to spend time with us and experience at first hand what it is like to work in a Cambridge College.

This enhances the students’ CV and broadens the range of portable and transferable skills that can lead to promotion, greater responsibility and new horizons.


It is important to travel to other parts of the world to experience their hospitality industry and see at first-hand how those countries and cultures deliver to their customers. The University Caterers’ Organisation (TUCO) provides a range of study tours each year with such opportunities.

In many countries catering is regarded as a coveted career – including in Japan, which has the world’s largest restaurant community, and all chefs have to be certificated. Tokyo has the highest concentration of Michelin-star restaurants with 230 in total including 13 with three stars and 52 with two.

Other perks include having meals provided on duty, private healthcare and contributions to a pension scheme.

People focused

Last but not least, hospitality is a people business with many customer-facing roles, which allow you to interact directly with people.

When things go well, the rewards are happy customers and that is an immediate and positive reflection on your creative efforts whether it’s food, drink or an experience. And when guests return – some time after time – it’s a great endorsement of your personal contribution to their enjoyment.

For further information on making catering a career visit: