Apprenticeships are changing the face of the sector

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Hands on: Training opportunities are 'changing things for the better'
Hands on: Training opportunities are 'changing things for the better'

Related tags Training Food Chefs Pubco + head office

The Morning Advertiser joined a chef masterclass at Billingsgate Fish Market, east London, to see how apprenticeships are driving the industry’s future.

This comes after around 70% of hospitality leaders reported problems with recruitment, with UKHospitality urging Government to add chefs to the immigration list​ to alleviate staffing shortages.

The workshop took place on Tuesday 5 October at the wholesale market's Seafood School. It was facilitated by the Chef Academy, part of the Lifetime Training Academy, which helps hospitality businesses to attract, train and retrain teams with hospitality training solutions.

It is the largest hospitality apprenticeship training provider in the UK and developed the Chef Academy to meet the growing demand for masterclass-style learning.

Collage Maker-05-Oct-2023-09-35-AM-1911
Chefs teach apprentices about sustainability and provenance 

The academy consists of a range of classes and enrichment days for apprentices to develop technical skills in a supportive environment.

TV chef & ingredients expert Joe Hurd is the chef ambassador for the academy, and he believes this new style of apprenticeship holds the key for the future of the industry.

While Joe Hurd said it was easy to blame Brexit and the pandemic hospitality’s chef shortages, he said this was a “short term” explanation.

Collage Maker-05-Oct-2023-09-39-AM-5771
Celebrity chef Joe Hurd is the chef ambassador for the academy

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser, ​Hurd said: “As an industry, whether it’s pubs or restaurants, we have to admit that the problems were deep rooted, and they’ve been there for a number of years.

“The kitchen was seen as having a very hard, demanding, aggressive atmosphere, where the work life-balance, which is now such an important fact of modern life, didn’t exist.”

Pubs are struggling to recruit chefs across the sector. Salford-based brewer Hydes recently reported challenges​ in recruiting kitchen staff, and Bath Pub Company managing director Joe Cussens​ said the inability to recruit good teams was one of the "biggest threats" to the sector amid "chronic" staff shortages.

Collage Maker-05-Oct-2023-09-49-AM-133
The Seafood School is based in Billingsgate Market near Canary Wharf

When Hurd began working in kitchens, he was on the job around 80 hours a week, with bad pay and no benefits. “I wouldn’t wish that on my own child,” he said.

He enjoyed working in kitchens. However, there came a point where he looked around and saw all his head chefs and sous chefs were divorced, bitter old men who never saw their children. He said: “I thought to myself, do I want to do that? Not at all.

“It was a way of either getting out or manipulating my career into something different.”

Collage Maker-05-Oct-2023-09-40-AM-6776
The Chef Academy is one of three training academies at the Lifetime Training’s Centre of Excellence

However, the TV chef believes the industry is beginning to attract more people with four-day weeks, higher wages, and benefits like private health care.

Training opportunities, like the apprenticeship scheme, are also changing things for the better, he added. As a parent, he believes apprenticeships are very important.

He added: “As consumers and customers, we need to change our mentality to waiting stuff to cooks and chefs, because as parents and in general society we want to encourage our kids into these careers and not think it's for people who can't.”

Collage Maker-05-Oct-2023-09-42-AM-3737
Masterclass sessions focusing on developing technical skills are built into the apprentice’s schedule

The Chef Academy makes up one of three expert training academies as part of Lifetime Training’s Centre of Excellence, which also includes Lifetime’s Leadership Academy and Hospitality Academy.

The focus is on providing expert development for apprentices across hospitality, from commis chef to hospitality manager. 

Masterclass sessions are incorporated throughout the apprentice’s learning journey, focusing on developing technical skills needed in specific modules on the programme.

Collage Maker-05-Oct-2023-09-44-AM-9291
At the Seafood School apprentices learn to make a range of dishes including fish pie, fish & chips and risotto

Masterclasses are delivered in closed or open cohorts of 8 to 12 apprentices at training kitchens across the country.

Alvis Furtado previously worked in housekeeping and has now turned his hand to cooking as an apprentice at the academy. “I’m learning a lot of things,” he said.

Furtado works at a care home, where he has “good opportunities” to cook food. The staff at the training centre are “really helpful” and supportive, he added.

Collage Maker-05-Oct-2023-09-46-AM-6145
Apprentice Alvis Furtado said staff are "really supportive" at the training centre

Kerry Homer is now a head chef in one of the care homes, but it’s a “whole new field” for the previous tailor, and she’s doing the apprenticeship to be “thrown into it”.

One worry she has about becoming a chef is getting the freshest ingredients, with the cost-of-living crisis meaning budgets are squeezed.

She believed full-blown apprenticeship schemes had become more prominent, and that it was important for people to establish a trade they could fall back on.


Collage Maker-05-Oct-2023-09-47-AM-9792
Joe Hurd said training opportunities are changing the industry for the better

Related topics Training

Related news

Show more