The shortage of chefs in Ireland has now reached crisis levels and is threatening the hospitality industry. An investment in training is needed urgently. The RAI is calling on the Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan to re – establish CERT, the former State Tourism Training Agency.
The vast majority of jobs in the hospitality sector relate directly to the food services sector with 24,700 employed as chefs in 2014. The main skills shortages are among suitably qualified chefs. Shortages of commis chefs feed into shortages at higher and specialist levels.
Among the applicants submitted for chef positions, many are deemed not to be appropriately qualified. This reflects the fact that there is not enough chef training centres. Currently 1800 chefs qualify each year from certified culinary training programmes. There is an immediate deficit of 5000 chef trainees annually.
The RAI recommends investment in management and the establishment of 10 new chef training centres nationally. CERT, the State Tourism Training Agency, was established in 1963. CERT was responsible for providing a trained workforce for the hotel, catering and tourism industry. It offered training courses for those wishing to pursue a career in this field and for employees in the industry who wanted to develop new skills. It was abolished in May 2003.
The restaurant sector are calling for the immediate re-establishment of CERT, which the tourism and hospitality sector held in high esteem while it was operational. It was fit for purpose and serviced the industry with skilled labour during its operational years.
The RAI welcomes the Governments recent announcements of new apprenticeship proposals. Included in the 25 proposed new apprenticeship programmes is a Commis Chef course which the RAI and IHF will run. The course will offer a total of 70 spaces.
The RAI will also be working alongside IT Tralee, who will be running four chef apprenticeship programmes with 16 spaces available on each course. The new courses are a stepping stone in tackling the crisis but the re-establishment of CERT is the only solution.
Irish workers are accounted for 69% of employees in the Hospitality sector. This highlights the importance of the industry. The RAI want to be able to market Ireland as a centre of food excellence, a true culinary experience with world-class chefs leading the way. Instead, Ireland is in a position where we have a severe shortage of chefs which is now threatening growth and expansion in the restaurant sector.
Adrian Cummins is the CEO of the Restaurant Association Ireland.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland represents the interests of the culinary and hospitality industry across several platforms. Their primary aim is lobbying for legislative changes, maintaining VAT levels, taxation, licensing, standards and curriculum development.
The RAI represents over 1,500 members and has over 100 trade partners. They also organise the annual Irish Restaurant Awards, Ireland’s most prestigious culinary accolades.