Skills, training and development within an insular labour market: the changing role of catering managers in the healthcare environment

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Purpose of the paper This paper addresses labour market insularity in the context of a specific sub-sector of healthcare management, that of catering and facilities. The paper is set in the context of growing public interest in the non-clinical environment of hospitals and other healthcare facilities has recently been greatly sharpened by political debate and professional concern.
Design/methodology/approach The research was based on a survey of members of the Catering Managers Association in order to determine their perceptions of their jobs, their career paths to date and future aspirations and the skills that they require for their work. Useable responses were received from 74 members or 23% of the Association.
Findings The findings of this paper addresses the roles that managers within in the UK's National Health Service who are responsible for catering and related facilities management perform and considers the responsibilities, in terms of skills, that these roles impose. The background and training of catering professionals in healthcare is also considered together with their long-term career aspirations. The key finding is that the healthcare environment constitutes a relatively insular labour market within which inward and outward mobility is rare. Managers in the sector are probably under trained for their level of responsibility and are limited in their career aspirations outside of the sector.
Research limitations/implications This study provides a limited insight into a complex work environment and findings are based on a relatively small response rate. Non-members of the Catering Managers Association were not surveyed.
Practical implications The study poses challenges to the healthcare sector in addressing the need for more effective career management and development for managers with a facilities and catering function. The issue of vocational insularity is one that needs to be addressed.
What is original/value of this paper This paper represents the first study of its kind to address career development and training issues with respect to catering managers within healthcare in the UK and raises important questions about the insularity of this relatively large national labour market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-147
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Vocational Education and Training
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • labour markets
  • skills
  • healthcare
  • hospital catering
  • catering management


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