What is the challenge of recruitment in the hotel sector in Europe? Part Two

5 min reading time

Published on 30/03/20 - Updated on 17/03/22


"It is necessary to change paradigm, to start from the human" said Olivier Chopin, General Manager at Les Hôtels de Bordeaux and President of the Association of Franchisee Investors Louvre Hotels Group, about the challenge of staff in the hotel sector at the Paris Asset Forum >hospitality 2019. But how is this workforce defined in Europe? What are its characteristics? What are the differences between countries? Part two: A rather young profile with lower education in the hospitality sector and between employment and the economy, wide disparities in costs and wages.

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A rather young profile with lower education in the hospitality sector

A quarter of the people have few qualifications in the hotel industry

As for the level of education, the distribution is generally rather balanced in the tourism sector, offering more opportunities to people graduating from high school than others: half (50.1%) have a medium education – graduated from high school (baccalaureate level in France), a third (29.4%) have a high education (Undergraduate, Graduate, PhD), and only 20.5% have a lower education (middle school diplomas, or no diploma at all).

The Hotel industry is the one with the most opportunities for undergraduates: they represent a quarter (25.8%) of the sector's jobs. On the other hand, it is also the sector offering the least number of jobs accessible to people with a high level of education, accounting for 22.8% of jobs.

The air transport and travel businesses sectors are those offering the most accessible jobs with a high level of education, with 43.2% for air transport and 47.6% for travel distribution. Jobs requiring an Undergraduate or a Graduate degree remain the majority in the airline sector (49.7% of jobs) but become secondary in the travel businesses (45.7% of jobs). Finally, the chances of finding a job for people with a low level of education are becoming difficult in these two sectors, since they have access to only 7.4% of positions in the air transport sector and 7.0% in travel businesses.


The hotel industry has a relatively young labor force

People working in the tourism industry refer to several age groups, with a majority of people between 25 and 34 years of age (24% of people), followed by the 35-44 age group (23%), the 45-54 age group (23%) and a minority over 55 (16%) and 15-24 (13%).

The hotel industry is the sector with the youngest people of the three tourism sub-sectors. Indeed, the two combined age groups of 15-24 and 25-34 represent 39% of the total workforce. The very young (15-24 years old) have particularly more opportunities in hotels, accounting for 15% of jobs, compared to 9% in travel agencies and only 6% for air transport. This reality must be seen in the context of the hardship factor of certain hotel jobs, such as room maids' jobs or reception staff. These jobs requiring strong physical condition (physical efforts, postures, night work...) are more occupied by a rather young staff. Also, age is correlated with level of education: thus, the more the 15-24 age group is represented, the higher the proportion of people with a low level of education.

In contrast, the air transport and travel agency sectors hire older staff, with a majority of the 35-44 age group, accounting for 28% of jobs in the air transport sector and 26% of jobs in travel organizations. The 45-54 age group is also well represented: 28% of jobs in the first sector and 24% in the second. This situation is also directly related to the level of education. Indeed, people with a high level of education will enter the labor market later, reducing the proportion of 15-24-year-old people and increasing the proportion of subsequent age groups.

In terms of age distribution by country, the workforce is generally between 25 and 54 years of age, with an over-representation of the 25-34 age group, in line with industry figures. However, some states are exceptions. Thus Greece, Spain, Romania and Sweden have a workforce mainly aged between 35 and 44. As for Germany, France and Malta, these three countries have more people working in tourism between the ages of 45 and 54. The latter also have in common that they have aging populations, with a median age around 40 years in all three cases.

Employment and the economy: wide disparities in costs and wages

A very high labor cost in Northern Europe, France being at the same level as Luxembourg or the Netherlands

As far as labor costs are concerned, the results are very uneven within the tourism industry itself, with large differences between the hotel, airline and travel agency sectors and tour operators. Thus, the “cheapest” labor force is that of the accommodation sector, with an average cost of 15.90€ per hour. Next come travel organizations, where staff costs on average €23.20 per hour. Finally, the air sector is by far the most expensive: €43.50, more than twice the hourly cost of hotels. This is due in particular to the high salaries of flight crews and pilots, which increase the labor cost in the sector.

In the European hotel sector, half of the workforce is paid below the continental average (€15.90 per hour as a reminder). Bulgaria beats the record at €3.00, but there are also European tourism champions in this first half, namely Cyprus (€8.1), Malta (€9.90), Portugal (€9.80) and Greece (€11.10).

The other half is above the European average. This group includes countries such as Spain (€15.80), Ireland (€16.60), Germany (€17.60), the United Kingdom (€17.00), Italy (€19.10) and Austria (€18.60). Three countries have about the same average labor costs: the Netherlands (€21.00), France (€21.10) and Luxembourg (€21.90). Six markets are well above these results. These are the states located mainly in northern Europe, as well as Switzerland (€34.60 - the highest of them all). The Northern European countries concerned are, in increasing order of cost: Finland (€26.3), Sweden (€27.80), Belgium (€28.50), Denmark (€30.20) and Norway (€34.00).

The issue of social contributions: a real difference from one country to another

The difference between hourly labor costs and hourly gross earnings is not the same from one country to another. Some countries will have higher social contributions payable by the employer than others, resulting in higher wage costs. Thus, the difference between the cost of labor and the hourly gross wage is 47% in Belgium, since it goes from €28.50 per hour to almost half, or €15.00. In Denmark the difference represents only 26.2% of the labor cost, the latter being €30.20 and the gross salary €22.30. Finally, for France, the gross wage of €13.20 per hour is obtained after deduction of 37.4% of the labor cost, which is €21.10.




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