VisitEngland highlights shortage of skilled chefs across UK

VisitEngland, the national tourist board for England, has announced new figures highlighting the shortage of skilled chefs across the country. Nearly half, (47 per cent) of vacancies for chefs proved difficult to fill due to a lack of skilled applicants. Chefs made up a fifth (21 per cent) of all skill shortage vacancies for skilled trades,* suggesting that businesses are struggling to recruit the skilled chefs they need.

VisitEngland is encouraging 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 urges the entire sector to make even greater efforts to recruit more chefs.

English tourism is predicted to be one of the biggest drivers of economic growth over the next decade, already worth £106bn (9% of total GDP) supporting 2.6m jobs. By 2025, the value of tourism in England is set to double to over £216bn, providing 1 in every 10 jobs.

However, skills shortages are a major threat to tourism achieving its growth potential.
Figures from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ (UKCES) Employer Skills Survey reveal that 1 in 5 vacancies in the hotel and restaurant sector are skilled jobs. When it comes to skilled chefs this rises to nearly half (44 per cent). Chef shortages are particularly prevalent in London (66 per cent) and in the South East (46 per cent).

The shortage of chefs is despite the growth in popularity for ‘foodie’ destinations. Waiting lists are long for tables at popular spots such as The Fat Duck in Bray, Hix, Lyme Regis, Rick Stein’s restaurants in Padstow and Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons Oxford. If hotels, restaurants and pubs are to meet the demand for tourism in these areas, the chef skills shortage issue needs to be addressed.

Commenting on the new chef shortage statistics, Tom Kerridge, chef patron of the ever popular, Michelin starred The Hand and Flowers and newly opened pub The Coach, in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, says, “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, says, “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.”