Underemployment and lived experiences of migrant workers in the hotel industry: policy and industry implications

Ann Ndiuini, Tom Baum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Although previous research has considered both high- and low-skilled migrant workers’ career experiences in their host countries, this paper makes a unique contribution by presenting unmet career expectations of a cohort of professional migrant hotel workers in the UK. It injects a fresh insight by demonstrating their hotel skill and professionalism contribution to the UK hotel sector, yet progression of their hotel career is restricted by immigration regulations. Skilled migrant workers in this study encounter underemployment despite their qualifications and skills, resulting in career frustration. However, removal of immigration restrictions would permit their flexibility to change occupations, often to jobs where they can exploit their transferable skills. Empirical data were generated in the form of modified life histories, based on interviews that were conducted with Kenyan skilled migrant hotel workers. Examining the lived experiences of these workers presents a platform to highlight the role that structural factors play in inhibiting migrant workers’ hotel career progression. This paper suggests ways in which hotel employers can tap into the workers’ cultural capital in order to improve hotel business performance whilst making meaningful use of their qualifications and skills.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events
Early online date24 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Mar 2020


  • migrant hotel workers
  • hotel career
  • underemployemnt
  • cultural capital
  • Kenya

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