The image of holiday centres and caravan parks has changed over recent years, with many parks upgrading their facilities to offer much higher standards of comfort.
Holiday centre workers provide a wide range of services within caravan parks, holiday centres or camps catering for visitors from home or abroad on a wide range of holidays. They ensure that holiday makers enjoy themselves in a safe and friendly environment. There exact role depends upon the holiday park. In larger parks roles are more formalised, while in smaller ones there is a greater emphasis on multi-skilling, where workers are required to be flexible and adapt to the needs of the holiday park.
Many jobs are similar to those in other tourism and hospitality businesses, providing essential services such as catering and cleaning. As well as this, other job roles can include:
Some staff work as group leaders, organising activities and entertainment. They may work with adults, children or a mixture of both. They could act as hosts and hostesses by greeting new guests, answering enquiries, sorting out problems and making announcements. Above all, they must understand the need for excellent levels of customer care.
With extra training, some may be involved in specialist duties, such as swimming pool supervision or child minding and play work.
Some larger holiday centres hold special weekend events during the off-peak season, often with a musical theme, as well as hosting business events such as conferences and team away days.
Holiday centre managers can be responsible for managing the centre as a whole or, in a larger centre, may have responsibilities for just one area of operations, such as catering or entertainment. Managers have additional responsibilities, which may include, for example:
Working hours are likely to be long and varied for most posts. They will involve shifts including evenings, weekends and public holidays, which will be the busiest times. Posts often involve staff living in the centre. Depending on the type of centre, the work could be indoors in an air-conditioned environment, in a busy bar or restaurant, or it could be outdoors in all weathers.
Seasonal work is common. Many centres close during the off-peak period (November-March). In some, as many as 90 per cent of staff are employed on a seasonal basis.
Some work may involve lifting and carrying (waiting, washing up and cleaning) and can be physically demanding and tiring. Some centres may expect staff to wear a uniform.
New entrants may receive a basic salary of about £12,000 a year. Holiday centre workers with experience may earn up to £17,000 a year.
Holiday centre managers may earn around £35,000 a year.
Holiday centre staff may also receive overtime pay, weekend duty payments, tips and bonuses. Board and lodging may be included with some live-in posts.
Overall, the leisure industry is expanding rapidly as people have more free time and take more holidays. An estimated 55,000 people are employed at round 3,300 holiday centres and parks (including campsites and caravan parks) across the UK. A high percentage of these are near the coast or in rural areas with easy access to national parks and outdoor activities.
The vast majority of holiday centres are independently owned and operate as a family business, with 89 per cent of all parks employing between one and ten people.
There are a handful of large companies such as Bourne Leisure (which owns Butlins, Haven, British Holidays and Warner), CentreParcs and Pontins. These centres may employ up to 1,000 staff during the height of summer, and can accommodate as many as 3,000 guests.
The newest cruise liners are now virtual holiday centres employing thousands of workers on a full-time basis.
Vacancies are advertised in the local press and on specialist website's, such as that of The British Holiday and Home Parks Association (www.bhhpa.org.uk). Seasonal jobs are also advertised on specialist website's such as www.seasonal-jobs.com and www.seasonworkers.com.
There are no minimum entry requirements for this career, although those with qualifications have a greater chance of progression and, in an industry which employs so many seasonal workers, of gaining year-round employment.
Applicants with GCSE's in English and maths, or the equivalent, may be preferred for administrative work. IT skills are also useful for operating booking and reservation systems.
Experience relevant to the post will also be useful, for example customer service, catering, experience in play schemes, leisure centres or youth clubs.
Live-in staff must be aged 18 or over; 16- and 17- year-olds living locally may be accepted on a live-out basis. Relevant qualifications will be required for skilled work such as play work, fitness instructing, electrical and plumbing work. To work with children, applicants need to undergo checks through the Criminal Records Bureau.
There is a huge range of different qualifications in subjects such as tourism and hospitality which are relevant to the sector, including a GCSE in leisure and tourism and BTEC diplomas and certificates.
The Diplomas in hospitality and the Diploma in travel and tourism may be relevant for this area of work.
Foundation degrees, HNC's/HND's and degrees in subjects such as hospitality management, and business and leisure management, may also be useful.
A range of Apprenticeship opportunities exist for those looking to work in holiday centres.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Several NVQ's are relevant to general holiday centre work including:
There are more specific NVQ's for people working on sites that include caravans which the Caravanning Industry Training Organisation (CITO) recommend:
The British Institute of Inn keeping awards NVQ's which may be relevant including Levels 2 and 3 in food preparation and cooking, Levels 1 and 2 in retailing and in cleaning (building interiors).
The National Certificate in Park Management is aimed at caravan park owners and managers and covers essential legislation specific to caravan holiday parks. This industry qualification is now a mandatory requirement by a number of the large holiday groups for their park general managers.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
A holiday centre worker needs:
Seasonal workers may progress to permanent status as vacancies arise.
Many employers actively support part-time study for qualifications such as those offered by ISPAL (The Institute for Sport, Parks and Leisure), which will provide the basis for progress.
Enthusiastic people with few academic qualifications can work their way up to roles such as team leader or management positions in this way.
SkillsActive - Caravan Industry Training,
74-76 Victoria Road, Aldershot,
Hampshire GU11 1SS
Tel: 01252 796085
ISPAL, Abbey Business Centre,
1650 Arlington Business Park, Theale,
Reading, Berkshire, RG7 4SA
The Institute of Sport and Recreation Management (ISRM),
Sir John Beckwith Centre for Sport, Loughborough University,
Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU
Tel: 01509 226490
People 1st, 2nd Floor, Armstrong House,
38 Market Square, Uxbridge UB8 1LH
Tel: 01895 857000
SkillsActive, Castlewood House,
77-91 New Oxford Street,
London WC1A 1PX
Tel: 020 7632 2000
British Holiday and Home Parks Associations
The National Caravan Council, Catherine House,
Victoria Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 1SS
NB - People 1st deal with holiday centres and parks;
SkillsActive with any parks that also contain caravans.
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.