One of the largest concerns of the industry today is the sheer lack of trained staff available for hire. From chefs to waiters, the industry has been hit hard by the looming consequences of Brexit and the lack of young people entering the trade. In order to excel as a business, it goes without saying that you need the cream of the crop on your team but when everyone else is fighting over such a small pool of people, is the skills gap in danger of tripping the industry up as a whole? We asked The Restaurant Show 2017 exhibitors what they think the hospitality sector needs to do to tackle the skills gap and chef shortage. Here’s what they have to say:

  1. Apprenticeships

“As an ex-chef, I know how important it is for students to gain on-the-job skills. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to help this issue by students working directly in the industry whilst studying.”

Simon Woodward, Territory Manager, Thomas Ridley Foodservice

“The industry is facing ongoing skill shortages and it’s quite clear that there is not enough talent to meet demand. As a result, more focus needs to be placed on training opportunities, particularly for young people entering the workforce.”

CV Library

  1. Modern Kitchen Mentors

“Helping move young people up into a happy and successful career in professional kitchens has never been more important and, once there, nurturing and mentoring these young people is absolutely vital. As chefs, we all remember that lecturer or team member that took us under their wing or simply led by example for us to follow. It’s the people that invest their time in you, for little or no reward other than to see you progress or compete at a high level. These people have always been around, albeit in shorter supply, but whether it’s issues like the chef shortage, those keen to safeguard skills in the kitchen, or simply improve the reputation of kitchen life in general, a proliferation of modern kitchen mentors will make all the difference.”

Nigel Crane, Managing Director, Essential Cuisine

  1. Better Hours and pay

“A solution that I think would benefit the industry is to improve working hours and pay. This will never be a 9-5 job but more could be done such as Sat Bains in Nottingham closing his restaurant for 3 days to help his chefs have a life outside of work.”

Simon Woodward, Territory Manager, Thomas Ridley Foodservice

“Companies are under increasing pressure to provide the very best packages, and salary remains a key driver for many catering professionals. Therefore, organisations within the industry should really think about what their employees want, and how they can cater to their needs.”

CV Library

  1. Bridge the Gap

“Industry needs to bridge the gap between education and the professional kitchen through inviting chefs and industry experts into colleges to work with the students in their own environment… I regularly teach in colleges via The Chefs’ Forum Academy which is designed to lessen the skills gap and inspire young chefs. I also perform butchery demos at Chefs’ Forum events showcasing the quality of our meat and butchery skills that have been handed down through four generations.”

Walter Rose and Son

  1. Clear Expectations

“It is vital for students to be made fully aware of what is expected in this trade. I feel popular TV shows may give a false view of what the job is really about and commitment is key.”

Simon Woodward, Territory Manager, Thomas Ridley Foodservice

  1. On-Demand Staffing Platforms

“Staff retention and engagement is key to lessening the impact the growing skills gap will have on the hospitality industry.

More hospitality employers are now using on-demand staffing platforms, like Catapult, to recruit skilled waiters, bartenders and chefs. This gives employers the security of having a pool of experienced temporary staff ready to work alongside their permanent team in order to meet fluctuating staffing requirements.

Most importantly, it gives the workers seeking flexibility more control over when and where they work while relieving some of the pressure on permanent staff, who can feel over-extended during peak times. The benefits to workers are passed onto employers in the form of reduced staff churn.”


Of course, a lot of these solutions won’t bring about industry change immediately unless there is a united, concerted effort within the industry and substantial government response and support. Why not join the debate about this extremely important topic at The Restaurant Show by attending the discussion panel: Talking Talent hosted by Jill Whitaker from HIT Training on Tuesday 3rd October 13:15pm - 13:50pm on The Stage.     

CV Library
Stand UN10

Essential Cuisine
Stand GC10

Thomas Ridley Foodservice
Stand UH60

Walter Rose and Son
Stand UJ61

Stand UH40