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Charity Cooks Up a Storm to Plug Hospitality Skills Gap

Charity Cooks Up a Storm to Plug Hospitality Skills Gap

The first young people have graduated from a new programme helping to plug a recruitment gap in the hospitality sector, which has been described as a “crippling shortage” by one of the country’s top chefs.

The programme is a collaboration between Action for Children Scotland and Hub International and works with young people aged between 16 and 24 with an interest in hospitality or cookery. Throughout the programme, the young people earn industry specific qualifications, innovative educational experiences and spend time working in top hotels.

The new programme comes as leading chefs including Nick Nairn and Andrew Fairlie warn of the crisis gripping the sector. Mr. Nairn referred to “a crippling shortage of talent out there at the moment” while Mr Fairlie, of the eponymous restaurant at the Gleneagles golf resort, is on record saying: “We have stopped advertising for experienced staff and are now taking on people straight from college or with no experience whatsoever.”

This hospitality programme is the latest addition to Action for Children’s employability offering in Scotland. The charity has delivered employability programmes in Scotland since 2008. Initially offering ‘Youthbuild’, a construction based programme, the charity’s employability network now includes 11 services, supporting young people into careers in sectors as diverse as forestry and engineering and, now, the hospitality sector.

The move into providing hospitality training continues a journey that Action for Children have been on in recent years. Since 2014, around 20 young people have come through the charity’s ‘Yes Chef!’ programme, which sees them train as chefs in restaurants and kitchens across Glasgow.

Stephanie Wade CEO of Hub International said:
There’s been momentum building in the industry for some time to bring back the classical practical cookery training and development of professional hospitality skills that the young people are required to have in our trade. We listened to educators, chefs, hoteliers and restauranteurs to find out what skills they wanted young people to have. We took away the traditional classroom, lecture style approach to training, to design a programme that was 90% hands on, skills led, and employer backed, to produce real results. To inspire these young people in to hospitality careers, we needed to let them see and experience real working kitchens & bars, to cook with fresh produce, visit the producers, meet the makers and get to grips with all the equipment first hand, not through a textbook, and not just gain the mandatory qualifications. Our students even visit farms to see where Scottish produce is grown, and learn about the importance of seasonality & local produce when designing menus, they got the chance to dine out and experience 5* service at Blythswood square before getting the chance to work there. We were keen to launch the first project in the vibrant city of Glasgow, with its diverse food & drink scene, and due to the success with nearly all of the young people achieving roles in top hotels, we can’t wait to take the programme nationwide. Our aim is to help build confidence and create opportunities for anyone who may be struggling to gain meaningful employment, and of course support more great employers with their mission to inspire the next generation in to the industry we adore. Recruitment isn’t as simple as sticking and advert out anymore, we need to all work together to show young people how attractive and exciting hospitality careers can be, highlighting the positives instead of all the issues would be a good start.

James Cantley, Operational Director for Children’s Services at Action for Children said: “We are really proud to see the first young people graduate from our new hospitality programme.
“Hospitality is a crucial sector in Scotland but is suffering from a skills shortage. Our hope is that this new programme will support young people into careers in this sector and help plug this skills shortfall.

“Over the last 10 years, we have supported some 6,000 young people into employment, training or to re-engage with education through our network of employability programmes. The hospitality programme is an exciting new venture for everyone at Action for Children and builds on the success we have already had through our ‘Yes Chef!’ programme. Through this programme, we hope to help plug that gap and create the next generation of talented chefs.”