Whether you prefer to work at home or abroad, hospitality and tourism offer a variety of opportunities to use and develop your language skills
A wide range of casual or seasonal work is also available, which can help you develop and build your language skills for other careers.
The travel and tourism industry includes businesses such as:
If you are competent in a foreign language, you may be at an advantage for many posts. Though a lot of visitors to the UK speak English, there is a growing awareness in Britain that we could do more to welcome tourists if staff across the leisure and hospitality industry had better language skills.
Entry-level positions may not always require a degree, but language skills can be an excellent way to get noticed and build a career.
Many companies use a tour manager to accompany groups and ensure all arrangements throughout the trip run smoothly. Language skills would be useful when liaising with accommodation, attractions and restaurants, and knowledge of culture, history and the country would be essential when pointing out places of interest to the group.
Seasonal jobs are also available on cruise ships, which often have all the facilities of a town, with employees in virtually every sector, from housekeeping to entertainment. Even some business functions, such as human resources, finance and IT, can provide shipboard assignments which increase your chances to travel and use your languages. Roles would rarely be graduate-specific and careers at sea tend to be relatively short-lived, but these skills can easily be transferred.
Some airlines and holiday companies recruit graduates of any discipline to graduate development programmes in departments such as marketing, finance and information management. Foreign languages will make you more effective, particularly in areas involving direct contact with customers or overseas companies. Outside the graduate programme, staff with languages might work in air terminals, or as a holiday representative, and an additional modern language is sometimes needed for air cabin crew.
Tourism officers develop plans to attract visitors to a specific site or region and language skills would be useful for such roles in overseas destinations or to promote the UK to foreign tourists. Marketing and sales skills are important in the work, but employers are increasingly concerned with the sustainability agenda.
VisitBritain has an overseas network of outlets, from which it markets Britain as a holiday destination. Occasionally there are vacancies for graduates who are friendly, customer-focused and fluent in at least two languages.
Foreign language skills are not usually a requirement for work in British hotels, but having another language may be an asset in establishments and destinations with a high proportion of foreign guests.
Applying to international groups with hotels in several countries will increase your chances of overseas postings and language skills would be a further advantage.
The roles most likely to use language skills are front of house, such as reception, where excellent communication and customer care skills are essential. It is common for hotels to hire staff from diverse backgrounds, which means language skills and cultural awareness may also help in supervisory roles.
Some major hotel groups and restaurant chains operate graduate training schemes, but it is common in this industry for graduates to begin their careers in operational roles. Direct experience, from casual jobs or university placements, is highly valued and sometimes a pre-requisite for management training. See hotel manager and restaurant manager.
For information on other roles, check out the hospitality, tourism and sport sector.
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