A leading restauranteur says the key to solving the looming problem of a shortage of chefs lies in encouraging more young people to take up Apprenticeships.
Andrew Savery has more than 30 years of experience in the food industry and currently serves up traditional English food with a twist at the First and Last Bistro in Ermington.
Spotting the potential in a young man working part-time in the kitchen, Andrew contacted City College Plymouth to set him up as an apprentice.
He’s now becoming an integral part of the operation, enjoying the experience he’s gaining at a quality bistro while learning valuable new skills at the College.
It is this approach Andrew believes the wider industry needs to embrace if it is to fill a growing ‘black hole’ of emerging talent willing to don chef whites.
The British Hospitality Association published a report last year which suggests that by 2029 the industry could have a deficit of more than a million workers.
Andrew said: “The industry has this high profile on TV, which should be great for recruitment, but really it’s a victim of its own success.
“People think they are either going to be miserable in a pressure cooker of a kitchen or that they have to be the crème de la crème. That’s where our mantra really comes in: simple, rustic, seasonal.
“I say to our younger team members to ‘be your own chef’ – get your skills and then you can choose where you work, the hours you do and the kitchen you run.”
Andrew is keen to encourage others in the industry to consider Apprenticeships or offering work experience opportunities to ignite a love of cooking.
“Initially, it looked like there was a lot of paperwork, but the support team at City College Plymouth walked me through it and made it quite simple,” Andrew said.
“They even came out to the bistro and answered all our questions, gave us advice about funding and which Apprenticeship route was best for our business.
“Starting work can be quite daunting for a young adult, so the benefit of Apprenticeships is that they have College support and training but also get to experience what it is really like to work in the industry.
“For example, early on he learned how to make bread at the College. Every day since, he’s made our bread and you can see the rapid improvement.
“Prep has gone from an hour to just ten minutes and he’s mixing it up, adding in new flavours or grains. It’s a great balance between the College and work.”
Andrew added: “We must invest in these young people for the future of our industry. When I retire, I want to be able to go out for a good meal – not settle for something deep fried and cooked with an automatic timer because those crucial chef skills have been lost.
“So please, chefs, talk to your college, talk to those working in your kitchens – the support network is there. Do this and we can turn this chef shortage around.”
To discover how the College can help you support your organisation’s training needs, please contact the College’s Business Engagement Team on 01752 305026 or e-mail [email protected].