VisitEngland has revealed new figures highlighting the shortage of skilled chefs across the country. Nearly half, (47 per cent) of vacancies for chefs proved difficult to fill due to a lack of skilled applicants. Chefs made up a fifth (21 per cent) of all skill shortage vacancies for skilled trades, suggesting that businesses are struggling to recruit the skilled chefs they need.
VisitEngland highlighted the issue during English Tourism Week (14-22 March) to encourage young people to enter the industry and in particular, consider being a chef as a career option. Emphasising the work already being done by the hospitality sector to attract young people to take up apprenticeships, it also urges the entire sector to make even greater efforts to recruit more chefs.
Skills shortages are a major threat to tourism
English tourism is predicted to be one of the biggest drivers of economic growth over the next decade, already worth £106bn (9% of total GDP) supporting 2.6m jobs. By 2025 the value of tourism in England is set to double to over £216bn, providing 1 in every 10 jobs.
However skills shortages are a major threat to tourism achieving its growth potential.
Figures from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ (UKCES) Employer Skills Survey reveal that 1 in 5 vacancies in the hotel and restaurant sector are skilled jobs. When it comes to skilled chefs this rises to nearly half (44 per cent).
Chef shortages are particularly prevalent in London (66 per cent) and in the South East (46 per cent).
The shortage of chefs is despite the growth in popularity for ‘foodie’ destinations. Waiting lists are long for tables at popular spots such as The Fat Duck in Bray, Hix, Lyme Regis, Rick Stein’s restaurants in Padstow and Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons Oxford. If hotels, restaurants and pubs are to meet the demand for tourism in these areas, the chef skills shortage issue needs to be addressed.
A wonderful career
Tom Kerridge, chef patron of the ever popular, Michelin starred The Hand and Flowers and newly opened pub The Coach, in Marlow, Buckinghamshire says: “The hospitality industry is a vibrant, fun and exciting place to be with many opportunities for growth and promotion, travel and experiences. The skill levels are so varied with so much to learn from base level catering through to highly skilled cookery or simple customer service, all the way through to fine dining. It is a wonderful career that I’m very proud to have chosen”.
Encouraging young people to take up apprenticeships
Addressing the skills gap issue, the industry is rallying to encourage young people to take up apprenticeship schemes. The Big Hospitality Conversation is a nationwide campaign led by the British Hospitality Association uniting more than 1,500 businesses so far to provide hospitality and tourism careers for young people.
As part of English Tourism Week, restaurants, hotels and catering establishments across South Yorkshire have come together (Tuesday 17th March 2015 at Sheffield Hallam University) to pledge job opportunities, apprenticeships and work placements for 16-24 year olds. Over 40,000 job opportunities have so far been created at events like the one at Sheffield Hallam University and tourism and hospitality industry is set to create up to 60,000 jobs for young people by 2016.
English Tourism Week
English Tourism Week is led by the national tourist board, VisitEngland, and is an industry-wide initiative designed to shine a light on the importance of tourism in England. Hundreds of tourism organisations and businesses have put on events to celebrate English Tourism Week this year.
The Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is running a week long social media campaign as part of English Tourism Week this week, highlighting career paths and opportunities across the industry. The week aims to showcase a range of jobs on offer and make people see a career in tourism as rewarding, offering long-term career development in a thriving industry. Follow #tourismcareers or #mytourismjob on Twitter for further information.
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