By Professor Peter Jones MBE: How far down the road has the Catering T Level can been kicked?
There was an announcement on Friday on a government website delaying the introduction of four T levels including catering. Three of those T levels were delayed for a year, what was telling was the statement in relation to catering.
“T Levels deferred from 2023 until 2024 are: Hairdressing, Barbering & Beauty Therapy; Craft & Design; and Media, Broadcast & Production. The T Level in Catering is also deferred beyond 2024 to allow time to consult with employers and sector bodies to ensure that this T Level meets all the needs of the sector.”
An interesting statement which implies that the Catering T level that was due to be available to learners from this September, is not meeting the needs of the employers. Yet it has been at least 3 years in the development and was developed by “Employers and providers working together to develop each T Level”.
Something must have gone wrong somewhere if the Catering T level is now being deferred beyond 2024. This is suggesting any introduction is at least three years away. Not only will this delay cause serious disruption to those colleges planning, recruiting and developing the resources to introduce the Catering T level, it will have an impact on the industry’s future talent pipeline.
Is the hospitality industry once again being marginalised? Not just in terms of this delay, but on the wider issues of the recognition of the industry as a major contributor to employment, professional skills and the economy.
Yes, the skills required of professional chefs are different from those of foodservice, front office, and the wide range of management skills required to run successful hospitality businesses. But when seen alongside the isolating of a catering T level, it implies that those complex professional skills are not worthy of development into a qualification of the same or similar stature.
Away from the disruption to the colleges, does this delay provide the opportunity for a much wider discussion and input into what the industry really needs from T levels or has the can been kicked so far down the road, that hospitality will not be offered the same equality of opportunities for potential learners, who wish to pursue a fulfilling career in our industry.
Professor Peter Jones MBE FCGI FIH FRACA, is a Director of Wentworth Jones an international hospitality consultancy company as well as holding the post of Dean of the eHotelier Academy. He has recently undertaken the role of chair of the Crumbs project, that provides vocational hospitality catering trainee for adults with learning and other mental health disabilities.
He is recognised as a leading international hospitality educator and innovator. He holds a number of company directorships and honorary appointments and has undertaken national and international projects for a wide variety of organisations within the hospitality and hospitality education sectors.
He was the project director for the development of the Edge Hotel School, the first of its kind in the UK.
He authored the influential report on ‘Hospitality in the Post Covid-19 world’ and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to the Hospitality Industry in 2007.