Creating Good Jobs in the Catering Sector

This research project explored employees’ experiences of job quality in the hospitality and catering sector within a UK university following the introduction of a new apprenticeship programme created in response to the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy.

This Lord Alliance-funded longitudinal case study adopted a broader definition of job quality to include subjective personal definitions of job quality as well as objective measures including pay, hours, contracts and training. The impact of a new apprenticeship programme introduced in response to the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy allowed a detailed analysis of the contradictory relationship between increased training and job quality.

people working in a professional kitchen

The research found that apprenticeship training continues to be tied to notions of a standard working week with day release for training activities. This does not match the working time reality of many hospitality staff, who are often women who work split shifts and have care responsibilities at home. This created increased work-life conflict and work intensification for some employees leading to a deterioration in their subjective job quality. However, the training also helped many employees build confidence at work and develop new work orientations and aspirations which were not immediately apparent to them in the early stages of their training.

Research outputs include:

  • a toolkit developed to support line managers of hospitality and catering employees in the higher education sector who are interested in pursuing apprenticeship training.
  • a set of case studies based on employee experiences that highlight a range of issues, and the personal benefits and challenges, when employees take on the apprenticeship at different stages of the life course.
  • a free smartphone app to help workplace mentors support and keep in touch with catering and hospitality apprentices through their apprenticeship study. The app can be accessed by scanning the QR code below or clicking the link for your device.

  Application developed in partnership with the Research IT Mobile Development Service (MDS) at The University of Manchester

Project team members

  • Gail Hebson (PI)
  • Clare Mumford (research associate)

Further information