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Delay of catering T-level roll-out will ‘exacerbate chef shortages'

30 May 2018 by
Delay of catering T-level roll-out will ‘exacerbate chef shortages'

The government's decision to delay the introduction of a vocational catering and hospitality T-level will exacerbate staffing shortages, industry figures have said.

The first 52 colleges to offer the new T-levels have been announced, but the government said the only courses that will be available at the outset in 2020 will be digital, construction, and education and childcare.

The start dates for the remaining 22 subjects are under review, with reports that some could be delayed until after 2022.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "Although it is encouraging to see the government begin to promote the possibilities of technical and vocational education, it is very disappointing to see the introduction of the catering T-level delayed.

"Hospitality businesses are facing a potentially very costly skills shortage and employers need support in order to ensure that vacancies are filled. Recent industry reports showed that the sector would need an additional 11,000 chefs before 2020 and that almost one million new staff members would be needed by 2022."

Daniel Clifford of two-Michelin-starred restaurant Midsummer House in Cambridge said that education and training in the industry needs to be completely overhauled.

"Home economics needs to be re-looked at. You can do business studies at school or GCSE drama, but home economics is still teaching housewives to cook. It should be hospitality and it should start at school, where someone like myself goes in and does a pop-up restaurant for an evening so they know what it is.

"The whole education system for young chefs needs to be changed, it needs to be on-the-job training, maybe one day a week at college, and the lecturers need to understand the industry."

Clifford said that in the last two years, CVs from chefs hoping to travel from abroad to work in UK kitchens had all but stopped. This story is echoed by Raymond Blanc, who told The Caterer he had seen applications from EU migrants fall by 80% since the Brexit vote and the impact on exchange rates.

Ed Vokes, director of recruitment company Evolve Hospitality, said the capital was still attracting overseas workers but he did not believe any kitchens outside London were running fully staffed teams. He said the situation often meant staff are working longer hours, painting a poor advertisement for careers in the industry. He added: "It's an ongoing problem that no one seems that bothered about solving at a government level."

The apprenticeship levy has also taken its toll, with reports of a drastic reduction in the number of people enrolled on the training schemes.

Chefs 'more fickle than ever' as recruitment challenge keeps getting tougher>>

Can kitchens solve the chef shortage crisis by promoting a positive working culture?>>

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