Why the decrease in funding in hospitality further education is impacting on the skills gap

The  Staff Canteen

Lack of funding =lack of time= an ever-increasing skills gap in the hospitality industry.

Rob Allsworth a Chef and Hospitality Lecturer at Broadstairs college recently posted a social media update asking people to sign a petition to increase college funding to sustainable levels across all subjects, but why is there such an issue with funding and how is this impacting on the hospitality sector?

With a career spanning over thirty years with nine years working as a chef lecturer teaching both front and back of house, Rob is ideally placed to provide insight into the problems with further education (FE) in hospitality. The biggest issue is funding (or lack of) and this has deteriorated over the years.

Rob explained: “When I studied at college I did a full-time course which was Monday to Friday nine until five, but the funding for FE has  shrunk so much and we are in a situation now where our students basically get 15-20 hours per week and it’s all down to funding.”

Fewer hours in the kitchen means less experience and there has been an ongoing battle to address the skills gap in hospitality.

“The skills gap is massive and quite often the chefs in the trade don’t understand but at the end of the day, students aren’t getting enough time at college,” said Rob.

The lack of funds is putting these students – our future chefs and front of house stars in a tricky situation. The main ramification from the lack of funding for chef lecturers like Rob is that they are not able to provide as much time for training and education to the students as they would like thanks to funding decreasing by 12% in the last eight years.

Rob is keen to use his position to spread the word about the petition and to try and get the funding that is required to teach the students.

He said: “We need to try and get the word out there. Chefs are always saying that we need more chefs and we need more front of house and they need to get more training. The only way where we can get into situations where we can train them better is if we have more funding and if the funding keeps dropping it can’t happen.

"The nice thing about the petition is that it is just asking for a fair amount of the pot – we are not asking for more than anyone else and we are not asking for any other treatment we just want our educational system to be sustainable.”

It’s not just the students that have been affected by the cuts in funding – it is the lecturers too.

Rob revealed: “I talk to lecturers across the country and I could name four or five of them where their colleges have experienced redundancies. It is the students that make it worthwhile we have got a great intake of students this year, but we are being pushed more and more to get more from us.  You have people like John (Holden) who is raising awareness with Bridging the Skills gap and Ian Sneddon from Hull college who judge front of house and back of house for World Skills and I have trained students who take part in that as have other lecturers and much of that in our own time.”

What is Rob hoping to achieve? He wants every chef and hospitality worker to sign the petition and get it to parliament. 

He said: “If we can get it to Parliament and they have to take some kind of notice hopefully we can do something about it. Every lecturer is passionate about getting more students out into the trade and to be even better trained. We would love to be able to give them more time and education, but the money isn’t there. If every chef or front of house person got a few people to sign the petition we would be there, wouldn’t we? That’s the truth of the matter.”

He added: “There is not a chef out there at any level that doesn’t deal with the staff shortage. I speak to ex-students and they are supposed to be doing a four-day week working 13 or 14 hours a day, but due to the shortage of staff, they are doing the same hours five or six days a week. You can be passionate and do a good job for 60 hours a week or you can be passionate for 100 hours a week, but you can’t do a good job 100 hours a week and believe me I know – I have done my share of 100 hours a week.”

This week is Love our Colleges Week (#LoveOurColleges) which aims to highlight the work achieved by colleges throughout the UK. They are also using this weeks initiative to call on the Government for more investment in colleges.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th October 2018

Why the decrease in funding in hospitality further education is impacting on the skills gap