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Social and Professional Services cover a range of industries in the hair and beauty, care and hospitality sectors. Amongst the areas included in these sectors are care work, floristry, aromatherapy, cooking and beauty therapy.

The UK social and professional services sector employs a large number of people, with over two million of these in the hospitality sector along. The hair and beauty industry is female dominated, with more full time than part time staff, and high levels of self-employment. The largest employers in the care sector are typically public bodies such as the NHS and local authorities.

  • According to a happiness survey conducted by City & Guilds this year, the UK’s happiest workers are beauty therapists. Contributing to their happiness are meeting new people and being made to feel appreciated (City & Guilds 2008).
  • The hospitality sector employs approximately 2 million people, with restaurants employing the most people. There are approximately 260,000 cooks and chefs and 230,000 waiting staff (People First 2008).
  • The hair and beauty sector has a £6.2 billion turnover, employs 230,000 plus people and has 500 million client visits per annum (HABIA 2007).
  • In total, the UK armed forces number around 175,000, which is made up of 170,000 UK regular forces, 1,700 full time reserve personnel and 3,500 Gurkhas. There are nearly 18,000 women in the Armed Forces, comprising 9% of all Armed Forces personnel (MOD 2008).

Careers in the social and professional services

There are a wide range of different jobs available in these sectors, from care worker to waitress, nail technician to chef, and hairdresser to aromatherapist. In Wales, 150,000 people use social services and almost 100,000 are employed in the hospitality sector. Welsh Government recognises the importance of these sectors to the economic life of Wales, as well as the quality of life of its people, and is committed to supporting skills and opportunites in these areas.

Courses are offered through colleges and other providers, aimed at developing skills shortages in the following areas:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Beauty Therapy
  • Caring
  • Confectionery
  • Nail Enhancements
  • Reflexology
  • Cooking
  • Hairdressing
  • Media Make-up
  • Nail Art
  • Restaurant Service
Further training is also provided by organisations such as the Care Council for Wales, the National Skills Academy, the Institute of Hospitality and Habia.

Working in this sector can provide opportunities to make a real difference in people's lives and helping to shape the social and economical climate for future generations.

For further information on careers in the social and professional services, and to search for current apprenticeship or Jobs Growth Wales opportunities, visit Careers Wales.

"In 2012 the [hospitality and tourism] sector played its part in the success of events such as the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Key to this was the warm welcome visitors received from thousands of volunteers who were trained to enhance the visitor experience. It can be no coincidence that these successes contributed to improved perceptions of the UK in a recent study and the strengthening of the UK’s position as a global brand."
- People 1st, 2013

Competing in the sector

Competitors face a series of practical challenges that test their skills at regional heats throughout Wales. The highest scorers are put forward to compete in the Welsh national final, with successful competitors going through to the UK national competition held at the NEC in Birmingham.

Among 2013's winners was Morgan Rennie, who won gold at the Skills Competition Wales finals for both hairdressing and nail technology.

Competing in the built environment sector competitions benefits students, learning providers and employers. Students are given a common, worthwhile goal that takes them beyond the normal expectation of education and training programmes, as well as being able to experience the excitement of competing. For the trainer or tutor there’s professional pride and evidence of continuing professional development, and employers benefit through maintaining a highly skilled workforce who take pride in the job and the company.

"I think taking part in these competitions, where students get to meet judges who have made a career in industries like nail art and hairdressing, have helped people realise that you can be serious about it as a profession."
- Morgan Rennie, Carreg Skills Competition Wales winner 2013

Hairdressing, nail art and nail technology competitions
Coleg Sir Gar, 2013

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Skills competitions test who has the ability to be a champion. And for those who’ve got what it takes, career stardom awaits..