Simon Rogan: Apprenticeships can tackle ‘real skills shortage' in hospitality
Chef Simon Rogan has emphasised the importance of investing in a "good training programme" to attract young people into the industry amid a "real skills shortage" in hospitality.
Rogan, who is chef owner of the three Michelin-starred L'Enclume in Cumbria, first launched the Simon Rogan Academy in partnership with Kendal Colllege in July 2021.
Speaking to The Caterer, Rogan said: "There's a real skills shortage in our industry for numerous reasons [including] Brexit and Covid. We didn't really get the influx of people back and we can't get them from the continent, so it's really important to invest in a good training programme so that you can always promote from within."
The Academy took on 15 apprentices for the 18-month programme, which culminated in week-long stage at Roganic Hong Kong.
Rogan said: "We were pleasantly surprised by the quality and the aptitude of those students. We've still got 12 out of the 15 left now – we never thought we would get anywhere near that success rate."
The apprentices have sat interviews for a permanent position within the company, while the Academy prepares the second wave of candidates, who Rogan described as "equally as good and really promising".
"You're getting that fresh, young motivated talent coming through," he said. "We can offer them so many different opportunities within the company because you put lots of time, effort and money into these people."
Although funding poses a challenge to programmes like these, Rogan pointed out that there has always been a tradition of formalised training across his restaurants, as "the senior management have all come through L'Enclume".
He gave the example of Ashley Salmon, head chef of Roganic Hong Kong, who started as a demi chef de partie at the restaurant five or six years ago.
"He went through L'Enclume, Rogan and Company, and did his time, so there's no better inspiration or motivation to all the youngsters to see him," Rogan added. "One day that could be them if they keep their head down and stay focused and stay with us."
Raymond Blanc, chef patron of Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, which has a reputation as a strong training ground for young chefs, also told The Caterer: "It's really just [about] empowering young people, supporting them, and creating a new form of management. We should make them feel special. It is so simple."
The comments come after a showcase highlighting the importance of hospitality apprenticeships was held in the House of Commons on Wednesday (8 February).
Tony Sophoclides, strategic affairs director for UKHospitality, told the event that between August 2020 and July 2021 there were just over 13,000 industry apprenticeships started, nearly double the previous year.
"Apprenticeships are really crucial to the recovery of the sector. We still want to get 25,000 new apprenticeships by the start of 2025," said Sophoclides.
He added that UKHospitality was calling on the Chancellor to allow more flexibility in the use of apprenticeship levy funds in his upcoming spring budget.
Earlier this week, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, announced that hospitality and catering featured prominently in the government's new apprenticeship campaign. Partners for the initiative include Umbrella Training, Hilton, Greene King and Compass Group.