People 1st is to set up five Asian and Oriental Centres of Excellence to address the problems faced by the sector in recruiting skilled chefs.
The Sector Skills Council is working with the Hospitality Guild on the Government-funded initiative, developed to train unemployed people to become chefs specialising in Asian and Oriental cooking.
According to Hospitality Guild research, the number of Asian and Oriental restaurants in the South-east increased by 22% between 2009 and 2012. Meanwhile, the sector continues to struggle to recruit after the introduction of the immigration cap.
Brian Wisdom (pictured), chief executive of People 1st, said: "There is an ongoing skills shortage across the country, particularly for chefs. The Centres of Excellence have been established to develop home-grown talent to support an industry that is at the heart of the fabric of British life."
Suzy Jackson, executive director of the Hospitality Guild, added: "The Centres of Excellence will provide much-needed, practical support to business owners within the Asian and Oriental sector and provide a pipeline of skilled people from which they can recruit."
More than 36 high-profile Asian and Oriental restaurants have committed to taking on apprentices, including the Cinnamon Club, Blue Elephant and La Porte des Indes, Tamarind Restaurants, Hakkasan Group, the Brilliant, Café Spice Namasté, Lasan, and China Express.
Cyrus Todiwala OBE, founder of Café Spice Namasté, who is taking on two apprentices, said: "In our industry, training is the key. Apprenticeships should have never gone out of fashion as they are an essential route to developing a career path for any individual."
The Centres of Excellence are set up in five colleges across England: Westminster Kingsway College, University of West London, Leeds City College, University College Birmingham, and Trafford College.
People who are interested in joining can visit www.hospitalityguild.co.uk/spotlight to register for the programme.
By James Stagg
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