Restaurants Association of Ireland calls for action on chef shortage crisis

The Restaurants Association of Ireland says that there is now a crisis in the shortage of chefs in the country, and an investment in training is needed urgently. The organisation is calling on the Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan to re-establish CERT, the former State Tourism Training Agency, with immediate effect.

The RAI stated this week that 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 in the industry 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. According to the RAI this reflects the fact that there are not enough chef training centres. Currently 1,800 chefs qualify each year from certified culinary training programmes. There is an immediate deficit of 5,000 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 and 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.

Speaking on the crisis, RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins said: “CERT, the former national tourism training agency, was established in 1964. It ceased to operate and was closed down 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.”

Mr Cummins added: “We 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 we are finding ourselves in a position where we have a severe shortage of chefs in Ireland, which is now threatening growth and expansion in the restaurant sector.”

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