The British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body (BIIAB) has today officially launched two new apprenticeship qualifications for pub chefs.
The Level 2 certificates both seek to show prospective apprentices (along with their parents, schools and colleges) that a career is a pub chef is a viable option, and make sure that the industry retains enough good-quality chefs who are specifically focused on the pub sector.
The first certificate is in pub chef operations, with modules in food safety, teamwork, stock control, basic dish preparation and cooking theory. The second is in pub chef skills, and also features modules on food safety and teamwork, alongside employee rights, tourism, first aid, and menu planning.
Employers can access the apprenticeship frameworks through BIIAB-recognised centres, with government funding available depending on the age and experience of the apprentice.
The qualifications have been developed as part of the BII's #PubChefPassion campaign, and come at a time when the Government has been keen to promote apprenticeships within post-16 education, and the quality of pubs' food offer has also become ever more important, according to authorities such as the Good Pub Guide.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, spoke at the launch, highlighting how visiting a "Great British pub", drink and food included, was such an institution that it was on tourists' hit list when they come to the UK. She also cited figures from People 1st, which say that by 2020, the pub industry will need to have recruited 843,000 more staff to meet the demand in food-led pubs.
Anthony Pender, BII chairman and founder and director of the six-strong Yummy Pub Co, who offers apprenticeships to staff throughout his business, said that the industry needed to recruit young people with new ideas, in order to make sure that the chefs of the future would have the opportunity for continuing development.
He explained that pub chefs require different skills to chefs trained at college for fine-dining purposes, and needed to have a wider understanding of different areas of the kitchen and business as there usually have fewer chefs cooking higher volumes.
He told The Caterer: "Pub chefs need to have more versatility and flexibility [than fine dining chefs], and they need to have different expectations when they come into a kitchen. We need more pub chefs, and we need to make the funding for apprenticeships much more transparent."
Even if post-apprenticeship chefs eventually move on from the business after achieving their certificate, he said, "it's better to train people and have them move on, than not train people and have them stay".
Tim Hulme, BII chief executive, explained that the issue of how to train and retain staff was key within the industry. He said: "A successful business is defined by the quality of its staff, but many still don't see [hospitality] as a valid career pathway. We need to think differently. There is a huge demand for pub chefs today, and we are delighted to be playing a part."
Head chef James Agutu, at Tooting-based Yummy Pub Co site the Gorringe Park, started within the company three years ago as a KP, and was then promoted through the ranks to head chef, via an apprenticeship.
A strong advocate for apprenticeships, he said: "[They] make people feel like they're wanted and worth something [within the company], and shows them that working in a kitchen or pub is an actual possible career. It shows commitment on both sides, and makes you want to stay in a company longer."
Registered charity BII is the professional body for the licensed retail sector. It has around 11,000 members, and 54 corporate patrons, members and supporters, and seeks to promote high standards and new entrants into the industry.