Careers in catering: why the industry shouldn’t be overlooked

A career in catering is perhaps one of the most diverse professions out there, and even though it sounds cliché, it really is different every day. The breadth of available roles is something which continues to appeal to new recruits, offering a whole host of challenges and opportunities. Not all career opportunities are obvious though — and there’s certainly a few hidden gems to uncover! Join The Kings Lodge Inn, one of the popular hotels near Alnwick Castle and take a look through this run down of some of the most interesting roles available in the catering industry.

Food manufacturing inspector

Recent years have demonstrated a growing awareness towards food allergies and the public handling of various dietary requirements. Many food and beverage companies have placed a lot of focus onto their health and safety departments for this reason, and as a food manufacturing inspector, you’ll be at the forefront of these all-important processes. Your day to day duties could include inspecting conditions in processing plants, carrying out quality control checks, testing samples of raw ingredients and processed products, presenting results and interpreting data, ensuring that practices meet the required standards, checking labelling is sufficient, producing quality reports and advising manufacturers on how to improve, as well as issuing warning notices if standards are not being met. The training processes relating to these roles is meticulous, due to the complexity of the work.

o   Getting started

Generally, GCSE certificates are required for entry onto the relevant college or apprenticeship scheme, and A-Levels will be a necessity for those who pursue the university route with popular course choices including Food Safety Inspection and Control. For apprenticeship hopefuls, the level 2 award in food catering certificate, or a level 3 award in supervising food safety in catering are options to look out for. College curse such as the Level 3 Diploma in Food and Drink Operations is also recommended, providing a combination of taught work and hands-on experience. Candidates could apply directly to a vacancy or gain experience in the field then progress through an existing position.

o   Pay expectations and working hours

The typical starting wage in this position at entry level can be around £15,000 per year, and an experienced food inspector could earn up to £30,000 per year. The typical hours are set between 40-42 per week, and the role can involve being on call. For this reason, a driving license can prove advantageous.


Food technologist/ food scientist

Food technologists get to experiment and conjure up new flavour creations— making them a kind of modern-day equivalent to Willy Wonka! This is one of the most interesting roles in the production side of the catering industry, wherein you’ll be responsible for devising and testing new flavours, products and ensuring safe consumption. Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of exactly what they eat, and this is being incorporated into the production line, testing and labelling these ‘zero fat’ and ‘high protein’ products that have become commonplace in supermarket aisles. You’ll also be involved in investing new ways to keep food fresh, attractive and safe, as well as finding ways to cut costs and save time in production. Along with blending new recipes, experimenting and creating sample products, you might also design the manufacturing machinery.

o   Getting started

Workplace progression as well as educational qualifications such as degree courses and apprenticeships can lead to a fulfilling career as a food inspector. Relevant higher education awards include food science, food studies and food technology. Chemistry and nutrition can also lend themselves to securing a role as a food technologist or scientist, but overall some hands-on experience is always invaluable. Other options include the food technologist advanced apprenticeship, and progression from this could lead to a food industry technical professional degree apprenticeship. Those in employment can work towards these roles, in positions such as a lab assistant or a food technician, gaining qualifications while employed.

o   Pay expectations and working hours

With a working week of around 39-41 hours the role is demanding but candidates will develop a serious level of expertise of the field while on duty. The starting wage is around £20,000, rising to anywhere around £45,000 for those with experience. These roles might involve shift work, and this is predominantly during the evening.

Catering Manager

The social aspect of the catering industry is unbeatable when compared to many other professions. Catering is the backbone to many large conferences, parties, weddings and other events. Nowadays, catering can be used to create unique experiences for a whole host of purposes, and as a catering manager you can be as creative as you want in this sense. From making contacts in the right places, to securing a catering plan that will make people’s big events as memorable as possible, the job is extremely varied. This role relies heavily upon communication, initiative and leadership, as well as the ability to think outside of the box. You’ll be at the helm of brining together one-in-a-lifetime events for your clients, and no two days will be the same as a catering manager. Daily, you could be required to organise shifts and rotas, recruit and train staff, meet suppliers and negotiate contracts, cater for dietary requirements and plan various budgets.

o   Getting started

Many venues look to hire internally, or they will have schemes in place to appeal to young people and graduates. Many catering managers start off as graduates or on  an entry-level scheme, learning on the job and attending courses in order to gain the relevant qualifications. It is certainly worthwhile looking into such establishments in your location, finding out where these schemes are available. Experience is favoured, even if it is just in the form of a generic events management/ catering role. Apprenticeships to pursue for a role as a catering manager will be focused on management, and a college courses to consider is the Higher National Diploma in Hospitality Management.

o   Pay expectations and working hours

An entry level wage is around £19,000 per year, and a catering manager with experience can earn up to £40,000 per year depending on the location of work. The hours for this role are slightly more than any typical catering position, working up to 41-43 hours per week. It can be demanding, and often working patterns will fall on weekends and can include bank holidays.


Could you picture your future in the catering industry? Pursue one of these exciting avenues and you could be set for a whole breadth of new challenges.



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Battling Period Poverty In The Classroom And Beyond…

According to Plan International UK, a dedicated children’s charity, one in every ten teenage girls will have experienced the problem of not being able to afford sanitary products.

The issue of Period Poverty has been picked up by many campaigners who are pushing to eradicate the financial barriers between girls and menstruation. So, let’s talk about exactly why young girls need to be growing up in a world free of period poverty.

Period poverty: what is it?

To define period poverty, it is having the financial inability to afford sanitary products such as tampons, towels and even in later life when products such as maternity pads are required. However, it can also refer to having a lack of knowledge about menstruation. Governments have come under fire for matters such as the tampon tax, which is thought to contribute to period poverty.

Tampon tax refers to the profits from the VAT charge of 5% applied to sanitary products and while this might be significantly less than the standard 20% VAT which applies to a whole host of other products, there is still dispute over whether we should be paying tax duties on these products at all.

A couple of retailers have swallowed the tax and a Tampon Tax Fund has been set up to support certain women’s charities, but that hasn’t changed the fact that many girls are growing up in a climate where they can’t afford these essential items.

How can we begin to address Period Poverty?

The UK Government’s Department for Education in April 2019 announced it aimed to provide free sanitary products across Primary school’s in England by 2020. The Children and Families Minister Zadhim Zahawi covered some of the key concerns for period poverty campaigners, outlining the move as a step towards enabling girls to meet their full potential, while also leading happy, healthy lives.

With the classroom being one of the key places to tackle period poverty and in February the UK government announced that it intends to implement classes on menstrual health by 2020, which is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to educating young girls about their periods.

The impact of period poverty on young women

Girls on average get the first period signs at twelve years old, however from the age of eight they can start. Not all young girls are fortunate enough to be able to add sanitary products onto their parents’ weekly shop and this has left many without access to sanitary items. With many girls not having the money to afford such items, wondering, “When will I get my first period?” may be an extremely stressful thought.

Experiencing symptoms and having no access to period products means that many girls could be going through period poverty during the peak years of their education and development. The average schoolgirl is found to take three days off each term due to period related issues and 1,000 girls said that period poverty affected their academic performance. There needs to be a solution to remedy this, allowing girls to focus on their education.

Why is it important to discuss period poverty in the classroom?

We should be actively talking about menstruation in the classroom since the pressure placed on parents to educate their daughters about periods may be difficult, especially if they lack the knowledge that is needed. As we’ve already mentioned, the government is taking the right steps towards bringing periods into the classroom and by educating girls at a young age, the school system can help to tackle period poverty at its very origin.

There’s certainly a stigma around menstruation and by leveling the playing field early on, we can inform young girls about what to expect and that it is totally natural. Plan International UK found that some of the most reoccurring reasons cited by girls missing school lessons, due to period related issues, were embarrassment and anxiety about the situation. This demonstrates the need for period education and schools should be striving to tackle this and make classrooms a safe space for all youngsters.

There is already a growing understanding of period poverty amongst teenagers and young girls thanks to multiple widespread social media movements. PHS Group carried out a survey in which a third of participants said that either they or someone they knew had been affected by period poverty. Teen activist Amika George began the #FreePeriods movement, and the nineteen-year-old is amplifying the message that no young girl should have to miss out on learning because they can’t afford sanitary products. She has joined forces with various other campaigns such as the Pink Protest and the Red Box Project to reiterate the importance of achieving period equality for all girls.

All women have a duty to share and support each other through an experience we all have in common, especially when girls get signs of their first period. So let’s tackle period poverty and raise a generation of girls who have ready access to essential sanitary products and are empowered by their bodies, not held back by them.


Don’t ‘hide’ periods in schools, urges charity at head of government taskforce

Teaching tech to older people: How to overcome the digital divide

We all know of instances where individuals have fallen victim to the digital barrier. Those that were born before 1990 weren’t brought up surrounded by technology, and this pattern continues to increase as the years go on, with those born after the millennium being the first cohort to be surrounded by technology in their upbringing.

Maplewave, whose revolutionary customer experience software which has transformed the way in which we do our shopping, have lent their expertise on how we can provide a helping hand when it comes to the elderly learning technology.

The digital divide

Both an economic and social inequality, the digital divide is becoming an increasing problem not only for the elderly but for all generations. Although once it was due to financial inequalities disabling the access to technology, it has now shifted towards a knowledge gap. Once connected to their devices, the information presented to them instantly becomes a barrier.

There is a huge effort to develop new innovations in technology but those with the necessary skills for the job are lacking in numbers. Thus, creates the digital gap, where the demand for digital skills has outstripped the supply. With predictions that within 20 years, 90% of all jobs will require an element of digital skills to a sufficient degree, so the efforts to bridge that gap is gaining pace.

Grasping new technology

It’s easy for the younger generations to grasp new developments in technology as it’s all we’ve ever known, we know the processes inside and out and can adapt out intuitiveness to suit the seemingly perpetual developments.

So, for those that didn’t go through childhood and adolescence whilst the digital boom was underway, learning about what the latest technology has to offer can be an intimidating experience. Generation X would’ve felt intimidated by the thought of learning how to use Microsoft Excel, now, it’s more virtual reality, voice activated domestic robots and wireless charging.

A great way of bridging the gap between developments is building on existing knowledge. If the senior is already familiar with an aspect, use analogies like referring links to webpages to roads to other cities or web addresses to street addresses.

Language of the internet

Implementing technologically-orientated words such as selfie or emoji may have reluctantly made their way into the Oxford Dictionaries at the displeasure of traditionalists, but that’s an indication of how much influence the internet has had on our lexicon contemporarily. As digital natives, we have adopted this as if it were a second skin, so when it comes to communicating with the elderly on the topic of technology, be sure to use simplified language.

Although using jargon is usually deployed to make the explanation process more concise, it’ll stall or confuse the listener and cause the teaching to slow down.


The importance of tech for seniors

With an estimated one in five over 50’s feeling as though they are being left behind by technology, it’s important for that demographic, which makes up a large chunk of any nations population, to begin coming to terms with the digital revolution. There are also fears that millions of over 50’s are struggling with economic inactivity as a result. As well as older people missing out on job opportunities due to their tech struggles, companies could be missing out on valuable business growth by neglecting to adequately train older employees in tech.

It goes beyond just the financial aspects too, elements of loneliness and feeling out-of-sync with family members can often occur if the older generation hasn’t yet made the switch to the likes of Skype, Facetime or even WhatsApp. All of which being visual or verbal communicative apps where users can video or message each other from anywhere in the world providing they have a stable internet connection. It’s especially great for family times like Christmas or birthday’s if one of the family members is away travelling for leisure or work.

Although generally we welcome fresh innovations with open arms, it is worth noting that the consumers don’t move as quickly to match the pace.