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News article24 March 2020European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion4 min read

The future of work: Hospitality and retail managers

The Skills Forecast from Cedefop allows us to imagine how the world of work might look in 10 years time by forecasting future employment trends. In our new series of articles, we look at the potential challenges and changes facing certain professions

The future of work: Hospitality and retail managers

The second occupation under investigation is hospitality and retail managers. This covers people working as hotel and restaurant managers, retail and wholesale trade managers, and managers of other services that include sports, recreation and cultural services.

Key facts

  • Around 4.2 million people were employed as hospitality and retail managers in 2018.
  • Employment in the occupation grew by just over 3% between 2006 and 2018.
  • Autonomy, creativity and resolution, and the ability to service and attend are the most important tasks and skills for employees in this field.
  • Managers in this area are mainly employed in wholesale and retail trade (35%), and accommodation and catering (32%).
  • The qualifications profile for hospitality and retail managers is not expected to change significantly in the future.

Tasks and skills

The key tasks and skills are listed below in a basic order of overall importance:

  • Autonomy
  • Service and attend
  • Creativity and resolution
  • Sell and influence
  • Manage and coordinate
  • Gather and evaluate information
  • Literacy
  • Use of ICT
  • Teach, train and coach
  • Routine
  • Numeracy
  • Teamwork
  • Dexterity
  • Strength
  • Use of machine

What are the trends for the future?

  • A projected 3 million job openings in this field will need to be filled between 2018 and 2030.
  • Employment growth for hospitality and retail managers is projected to be around 10% (an increase of around 410,000 jobs), with particularly strong growth in Italy, Cyprus, the UK, Denmark and Hungary.
  • The percentage of professionals in this field who hold high-level qualifications is expected to increase from 35% in 2018 to 41% in 2030. 
  • The percentage of professionals in this field who hold low-level qualifications is expected to decrease from 22% in 2018 to 18% in 2030.
  • Hospitality and retail managers are reportedly an occupation with very low risk of automation.

Which drivers of change will affect their skills?

Hospitality and retail managers most commonly manage establishments that provide services directly to the public, in organisations that are too small to have hierarchies in management. As a result, they require a more public-facing skillset than managers in more specialised and technical sectors. The drivers of change that will shape the key trends in skills in the occupation will include the following.

  • A new generation of workers with different demands and expectations. Young people have grown up in a connected world, and therefore value the blending of their work and personal lives. They also expect faster and more readily available communication with higher-level staff, which will require a new, more flexible approach to management.
  • Ageing populations across the EU pose recruitment challenges for managers. As experienced managers retire, there may also be skills deficiencies in management roles themselves.
  • Technological changes in the retail sector, including the introduction of self-service checkouts, have resulted in cashier jobs being replaced and new roles created for assisting customers with the use of such machines. Advanced skills in data management, critical analysis, web and other tech-related subjects, as well as strategic planning, are under-developed or missing in some cases, and these will prove essential for managers in these sectors.
  • The increase in the operation of firms through different channels, such as e-commerce/e-booking and marketing, will place new demands on managers in hospitality, retail and other services. They will need to be able to manage customer requests through these new channels, and to deliver training and upskill staff.
  • Evolving legal and regulatory frameworks demand that managers have a good understanding of laws and regulations (e.g. on labour and food hygiene and care), and are able to work within such frameworks. The increase in temporary work contracts will require managers to be able to lead their teams while potentially experiencing a high level of employee turnover.

How can these skills needs be met?

Potential candidates for management positions need to be identified at an early stage and entered into a suitable development programme. The development of core management and leadership skills requires some basic management training, which can be in-house or external. Such skills can also be learnt on the job, and improved by a mentoring or job-shadowing system. Firms must also provide training for management on relevant technological developments in their sector.

Relevant national authorities can also have a role in the development of management skills by providing funding to support SMEs, particularly in the areas of entrepreneurship and emergent skill needs. In terms of the ageing workforce of shop owners/managers, the focus should be on providing training on transferring management functions and strengthening human resource management.

Want to know more about the Skills Forecast and what the future holds for jobs in Europe? Check out our overview article and our article on legal, social and cultural professions.


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