Chef Shortage: 11,000 chefs are missing - the causes and possible solutions

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd April 2016
11,000 chefs are missing: the causes and possible solutions. By Martin-Christian Kent, executive director, People 1st. Last month I chaired a discussion panel on the chef shortage to a packed audience at Hotelympia. Panel members were Sean Kelly, executive chef, Marriott Hotels; Peter Ducker, chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality, John Hyde, chairman of HIT! Training and Neil Rippington, dean at University College Birmingham. people 1stAs you would expect given the topic, it was a wide ranging and passionate debate that discussed the reasons why the industry isn’t attracting sufficient people to fill current vacancies and how we should go about filling the projected 11,000 empty sets of whites. An interesting turn of the discussion centred on the way we are managing chefs. I find it interesting because of the very different views head chefs and students are expressing in the research People 1st is conducting into the chef shortage. This large-scale body of research with chefs, chef organisations, hospitality businesses, industry commentators, recruitment agencies and suppliers is currently underway to get a better understanding of the types of skills the industry will need in the next five to ten years. A lot of the panel felt that the passion and creativity that young chefs have when they enter the industry evaporates very quickly with the result that they leave soon after joining. Head chefs are pretty consistent that they want people with passion and creativity. The good news is that speaking to chef students, many of them have the passion and determination that the industry is seeking. The challenge is matching their different expectations. Some students are jaundiced that many of the chef opportunities that are available locally have limited culinary scope, which doesn’t allow them to use their skills. In other cases, while kitchens need chefs with a broad range of skills, the head chef is the sole player with the requirement to be creative. This isn’t a new issue, but one that can’t be ignored. Without question there needs to be greater links between employers and colleges to ensure a smoother transition into the sector. We have some fantastic colleges out there and the current funding cuts and college mergers mean it is more critical than ever that they can get the support they need and ensure that they are able to develop chef skills. Last month it was announced that People 1st People 1st quotehas teamed up with the AA to sponsor a new award at the 2016 AA Hospitality Awards which seeks to cement the links further - The AA College Restaurant of the Year. The award seeks to uncover and reward the hard work of chef lecturers and student brigades that run college restaurants, and is open to colleges that have been accredited by People 1st and those that have been awarded an AA College Rosette. With training top of mind, the Hotelympia panel expressed concern that whilst we have some fantastic head chefs in culinary terms, many of them hadn’t received formal training and support to develop the essential management skills to get the most out of their brigades. This is something else that our research is picking up on and just goes to show the range of skills that senior chefs need to possess. If you’ve got views on the skills of senior chefs, the University of West London have a short online survey which doesn’t take long to complete and they would welcome your views:  http://bit.ly/237xFuH In looking at solutions to the problem of supporting managers better, the panel discussed a number of ways forward, but the subject of apprenticeships received a lot of attention. A number of the panel felt that the apprenticeship levy was an opportunity to provide the development that chefs need to progress. There was concern that the levy, which will be introduced from April 2017, is wrongly perceived only to support entry level roles, whereas in reality it can also help support higher level progression and development and be used fairly flexibly given the new apprenticeship system. More information is available on the changes at www.people1st.co.uk. If you want to share your views on the chef shortage or would like to find out more about potential solutions including apprenticeships, please contact info@people1st.co.uk. People-1st-Logo-ptpPeople 1st is the workforce development expert for the hospitality, tourism, travel, passenger transport and retail industries and works in partnership with employers to develop solutions that increase performance through people. For more information visit: www.people1st.co.uk, call 020 3074 1222 or tweet @p1stgroup
The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd April 2016

Chef Shortage: 11,000 chefs are missing - the causes and possible solutions