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Experience the “heat of the kitchen” it’s a great place to learn.

Written on 09-Oct-2017

Last week I visited a local college to speak to some of the hospitality students about their transition into the world of work. I was keen to offer an insight into the industry they were about to enter and make sure they had thought about all the different options open to them. After all, the average staff turnover rate in the hospitality industry is 75% (People 1st).

These students were about to start a job which they will probably not stay in for more than a year. Had they considered how this might affect their career development? Could the transient nature of the industry benefit them in any way? I have a brigade of hundreds of interim chefs who choose to work in a very flexible way: moving from job to job and aligning themselves with their ‘agency’ rather than any one hospitality establishment in particular. Had these students ever considered this style of employment as a serious career option? Research from the CIPD suggests that flexible working will be the main way of working for 70% of organisations by 2020, so I passionately believe that it’s something they should consider.

The presentation was going well and I was pleasantly surprised that the students were engaged, asking lots of questions throughout and were even asking how they could register with us before the presentation had come to an end. However, our momentum was quickly halted when Chris, one of our CJUK chefs asked the audience of about 70 students, “How many of you have got a part-time job in a kitchen outside of college?”

One student put their hand up.

I was stunned. How were these future chefs ever going to survive in the hardcore hospitality industry without some real-life work experience? Compared to apprentices who are cutting their teeth in busy, intense kitchens from day one, these college students were really going to struggle to adapt to the realities of working as a chef.

If we are going to make any progress in tackling the chef shortage these students need to be offered work experience from day one. I’m confident the majority of establishments could do with some extra help in the kitchen, even if it is a student prepping or even working on a section doing cold starters, working up to more responsibility.

CJUK are starting by working with our local college in Blackburn to offer a mentoring scheme where students are partnered up with a CJUK chef, going out on jobs getting work experience in different kitchens. We would love to roll this out further as we have clients all over the country.

If you are a business who would be interested in hosting a student, or, a college who wants to get involved, please get in touch as we would love to do anything we can to help solve the so-called ‘chef shortage.’

 

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Katie Mellor

Director of Sales & Operations

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