Research commissioned by the tourism body found 47% of vacancies for chefs proved difficult to fill due to a lack of skilled applicants and that chefs made up 21% of all skill shortage vacancies for skilled trades.
VisitEngland said it was highlighting 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 urged the entire sector to make even greater efforts to recruit more chefs.
Figures from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ (UKCES) Employer Skills Survey also reveal that 1 in 5 vacancies in the hotel and restaurant sector are skilled jobs. When it comes to skilled chefs this rises to 44%.
Chef shortages are particularly prevalent in London (66%) and in the South East (46%).
Commenting on the figures, chef Tom Kerridge said: “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”.
James Berresford, chief executive of VisitEngland, said: “We are proud of England’s growing foodie reputation which relies heavily on skilled chefs delivering quality across the many fantastic restaurants, pubs and hotels across the country.
"We need to ensure there is enough being done at grass roots level to inspire young chefs to enter the industry and fill the skills gap, if we are to meet visitor demand."