WE HAVE to tackle the workforce skills shortage and we have to start right now. Every area is suffering, in both the operator and supply side of our foodservice industry. From the kitchen to engineering, the lack of young skilled professionals coming through to replace an ageing workforce is already becoming critical. Office administration, front of house, maintenance, manufacturing, servicing, sales and marketing – the workforce skills are disappearing.
Apprenticeships are a potential answer. It is a win-win solution for business and industry as well as for new entrants: with rising tuition fees taking higher education out of the reach of many school leavers, apprenticeships offer a real hope of a fulfilling career for our young adults.
How do businesses feel about apprenticeships? A survey of our members of the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA), as well as CEDA (The Catering Equipment Distributors Association) and the FCSI (Foodservice Consultants Society International) found that while around 30% of respondents already employ apprentices, over 50% would be willing to do so and a further 33% would consider it.
There is broad support from industry. With youth unemployment hovering around 20% (House of Commons Library Standard Note 26 February 2013), there is a clear need amongst the young. So there is the will – but is there the way?
CESA fully supports the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) in its programme to encourage apprenticeship programmes amongst UK manufacturers. In fact, CESA is being used as a trailblazer as the NAS tries to leverage the reach of trade associations to their members, to encourage the take up of apprenticeship schemes.
High profile ministers are backing Apprenticeship Week next week [March 11th to 15th]. However, it shouldn’t stop there. This is a programme that everyone can, and should, support. CESA is calling on its members, and all organisations in the foodservice industry, to take the apprenticeship pledge. If we want a skilled workforce tomorrow, we need to start creating it today.
For more details contact Ellie Ulrich of the NAS, who has specialist knowledge of the catering and hospitality sector: firstname.lastname@example.org.