The hospitality industry is in crisis because not enough young people are choosing a career as a chef, according to Arwyn Watkins (pictured), the president of the Culinary Association of Wales.
Speaking at the awards dinner for the Welsh International Culinary Championships (WICC) at Coleg Llandrillo in Rhos-on-Sea, Watkins also highlighted the high dropout rate among trainees after they have finished their courses. The problem applied throughout the UK as well as in northern Europe and North America, he said.
Watkins, who is also managing director of the training provider Cambrian Training Company, said: "I believe that this is no longer a skills shortage but a people shortage. Not enough individuals are taking this industry as a serious career choice. Even when they have made that career choice, not enough are progressing on to the industry on completion of further education.
"We have to work with employers to share best practice on work life balances and the changing dynamics and expectations of the workforce. No longer can our industry survive on goodwill. We all have to think differently if we are to secure a sustainable workforce. Not an easy ask but necessary."
He also congratulated everyone involved in WICC, which notably saw welsh-born Ben Taylor, head chef of the Michelin-starred Lucknam Park hotel and spa near Bath, crowned as National Chef of Wales.
The event attracted attendees such as deputy minister for farming and food, Rebecca Evans; and Will Holland, chef at Coast restaurant in Saudersfoot, who helped judge over the contest's four days.
Holland was more optimistic, commenting on the competition events: "It was great to see the range of chefs, from students through to seniors [at WICC]. The main things I noticed were the brilliant standard of competitions and the energy and enthusiasm within the industry. It fills me with confidence that there are chefs that will be filling our boots in the future."
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