CHEF SHORTAGE

Chef shortage will hit hard over Christmas, warn recruiters

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

Shortage: industry will need 11,000 chefs in next eight years
Shortage: industry will need 11,000 chefs in next eight years
Recruitment agencies will struggle greatly to meet demand for chefs from pubs and restaurants this Christmas, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) has warned.

Almost two thirds (61%) of specialist recruitment agencies that many hospitality businesses rely on to source chefs will be unable to provide enough skilled workers over the manic festive period thanks to the ongoing shortage, REC reported this morning (15 November).

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “As we approach the festive season, the shortage of chefs is causing real headaches for restaurants. Training and progression needs to be improved so that more people are encouraged to become chefs."

Immediate crisis

“That’s a longer term fix, but there’s an immediate skills crisis that needs to be addressed. Any restrictions on access to chefs from the EU, such as a salary threshold for work visas, will only exacerbate the problem.”

Almost every recruitment agency (93%) said there were not enough trained chefs in the UK, with 83% saying they expected demand for chefs to worsen during the next year.

Green added: “Without a supply of chefs to meet growing demand, restaurants, bars and hotels will have to pay more for their staff and it’s likely that these costs will be passed on to the customer.”

Research by People 1st​ recently reported that almost half (42%) of chefs working in the UK were migrant workers, with 18% of that contingent coming from within the EU.

Vacancies hard to fill

People 1st​ executive director Martin Christian-Kent said: “Currently, 42% of chef vacancies are considered hard to fill.

“However, last year alone, 14,000 chef students left college after completing their qualification, which is more than enough to fill the 11,000 we need in the next eight years.”

This, Christian-Kent said, could be attributed to two possible explanations: either students’ expectations were not matching the reality of working in the hospitality industry or that students were entering the industry but not staying.

He added: “It’s critical that we develop strategies to encourage progression and development of chefs in order to aid retention and enable businesses to operate effectively and remain competitive.”

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