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There are many Australians, Kiwis and South Africans who work in bars, pubs and restaurants, if not just short-term for a bit of extra income, then for the whole duration of their stay.

Not only does the hospitality industry suit travellers seeking casual work, it also attracts hard workers who enjoy being around enthusiastic people. 

Finding a job

This industry is something of an anomaly because, unlike most jobs, you’re unlikely to find the majority of vacancies online (see tntjobs.co.uk). However, there’s no substitute for walking into a bar or eatery,  introducing yourself and asking if they have any work. That’s what Vana Unn, from Sydney, did.

“I live down the road from a bar so had often walked past it and thought it looked pretty cool,” says the 23-year-old, who works at The Living Room in central London. “One day, I had been for a haircut and colour, so I was feeling really confident. I decided to just walk in there and ask for a job. I had an interview straight away and got the position.”

When job-hunting, also try cold-calling catering firms, especially ahead of big events, such as the summer race season, and expect to find plenty of short-term jobs in the run-up to Christmas.


The work

Listen to the chatter in bars and restaurants around the UK; the southern Hemisphere accent really cuts through, such is the number of them working in the industry.

Waiting and other front-of-house positions are usually widely available, and there are also plenty of jobs to land in the kitchen – many a chef has made their mark here. But the bonus for waiters is supplementing wages with tips.

This is an industry where turnover is high, so don’t give up if you don’t get a job straight away. It’s a numbers game, so you’ll land something in no time.

The pay

Along with retail, the hospitality industry is one of the lowest paying. The minimum wage is £4.98 for 18-21-year-olds and £6.08 for those aged 21 and over. 

That might seem a bit tight, but you’ll find the tips more than make up for it – this alone is an incentive to not only be good at your job, but to be extra friendly to customers.

Also check whether the job has any perks. Many hospitality jobs, mostly outside of London, include accommodation and food. It’ll save you a packet.

Further up the ladder, assistant managers can command a salary between £17,000 to £22,000 a year; and managers can earn from £20,000 to £35,000 a year, depending on the company and position.

Qualifications

Firstly, if you want a management role, or to be responsible for selling alcohol, you’ll need a personal licence, known officially as a National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders or (NCPLH) Level 2. This involves partaking in a licensing law course and sitting an exam. You can find various organisations online that offer the course (see dcms.gov.uk for more details).

Equally, anyone wanting to work in a kitchen must have basic food and hygiene and health and safety qualifications under their belt. If you’re waiting tables, you don’t need any qualifications, but experience is helpful. In fact, some employers prefer this.

Training courses

A recruitment and training company such as Kubaba (kubaba.co.uk) can provide training courses for anyone who want to gain extra qualifications. Kubaba rerepresentative Emine San says antipodeans and South Africans have the added advantage of being fluent in English – important for front-of-house positions. 

“Coming from a native English speaking country will gain extra points for job applicants,” she says.

Convinced?

Bar worker Unn, who came from an office environment in Australia, has found it “refreshing not to be stuck behind a desk five days a week”. 

She adds: “The social aspect is definitely the best part of working in this industry. I’m making new friends and getting to know the locals. Plus, getting hit on at least once a night isn’t bad!”


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The Antipodeans' guide: Bar and restaurant work in the UK - what to expect and how to get it
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