Ireland is facing a major kitchen conundrum, with up to 5,000 chef positions likely to go unfilled between now and 2020 if action isn’t taken.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) said a serious shortage of chefs in the country has reached “crisis level” and threatens the hospitality industry.
It says an investment in training is needed urgently and has called on the Minister for Education to re-establish CERT, the former State Tourism Training Agency, with immediate effect.
The vast majority of jobs in the Irish hospitality sector relate directly to the food services sector, with 24,700 chefs employed in 2014.
The main skills shortages are among “suitably qualified chefs”, according to the RAI, which says the dearth of commis chefs feeds into shortages at higher and specialist levels.
The RAI says there are not enough chef training centres and while 1,800 chefs qualify each year from certified culinary training programmes, Ireland faces an immediate deficit of 5,000 chef trainees annually.
The former National Tourism Training Agency was closed down 12 years ago, but there are now appeals to bring it back.
“The restaurant sector is calling for the immediate re-establishment of CERT, which the tourism and hospitality sector held in high esteem while it was operational,” said the RAI’s chief executive, Adrian Cummins. “It was fit for purpose and serviced the industry with skilled labour during its operational years.”
He added: “We want to be able to market Ireland as a centre of food excellence, a true culinary experience with world-class chefs leading the way. Instead, we are finding ourselves in a position where we have a severe shortage of chefs in Ireland which is now threatening growth and expansion in the restaurant sector.”