Operators: ‘We can get the kit, but not the chefs’

Chefs

New research suggests hospitality operators are finding it increasingly difficult to fill chef vacancies as the rate of young talent coming into the industry slows up.

Recruitment specialist People 1st said that roughly one in four (26%) operators with chef vacancies believes them to be “hard to fill”, an issue that it claims is being exacerbated by a “sharp decline” in the number of students opting for full-time chef programmes.

It said that 51% of colleges it had polled report a fall in interest. The drop in applications comes at a time when the UK catering market is predicted to need an extra 11,000 chefs over the next seven years to meet demand.

People 1st’s managing director, Simon Tarr, says that recent government changes to the curriculum have had a devastating effect on colleges offering the City & Guilds Diploma in Professional Cookery.

“The diploma was intended to ensure consistency in chef training and to provide students with the range of skills and knowledge they need to enter the industry and perform at the level employers require. However, colleges must now deliver English and Maths GCSEs within the same number of hours and this is simply not sustainable.

“Already we will have seen a quarter of colleges decide to stop offering this course over a three-year period, meaning that the industry is facing a huge problem in finding skilled chefs in the years to come.”

Tarr said People 1st is partnering with the Tourism Council to make the case to government to increase the hours in which colleges can deliver the diploma and prevent the course form being discontinued.

He added that it was vital to halt the decline in the number of skilled chefs. “Our research shows that, by 2022, the hospitality industry needs to recruit 11,000 chefs. People 1st see addressing this future shortage of skilled chefs as a priority and as such we are working in partnership with employers on a number of solutions. In the short-term, we are linking businesses with chef vacancies to students graduating from our network of accredited colleges.”

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