Rugby College has bucked the trend of scaled-back catering courses, expanding its intake and planning to open an on-site restaurant in the New Year.
The Warwickshire college, part of the WCG group, has expanded after seeing increased demand from students.
Head of department Sam Starvis said: “In recent years attitudes to professional cooking have changed significantly.
“While cooking and waitering have always been viewed as skilled professions on the continent, this has not always been the case in the UK.
“But as the catering sector continues to grow and diversify across the country, we are definitely starting to see a change in how the industry is perceived. It’s certainly becoming a more desirable profession.”
Rugby College, which offers Level 1 and Level 2 diplomas in professional cookery, had installed three commercial kitchens during the summer and will welcome members of the public to its new restaurant in the New Year.
The large-scale investment will be a welcome change following announcements from several establishments, including Runshaw’s College in Lancashire and Oxford Brookes, that their restaurants would be closing.
The closures prompted widespread concern across the industry, coming in the midst of a skills shortage.
Responding to news of Oxford Brookes’ closure, David Coubrough, chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts’ board of governors and trustees, said: “As a past student of the hospitality department and its restaurant training (1974-1977) I could be accused of living in the past, but my daughter, Emily, who graduated from there in 2015, agrees with me that the training restaurant was not only a pivotal, but the most relevant part of her course.
"It can only be hoped that other colleges don’t let hospitality management students down in the same way or else the task of training, already challenged on every front, has just got a whole lot harder.”