Laure Misse

Après un master en commerce international et un mastère spécialisé en Communications, Laure débute sa carrière en agence de communication à Paris.

On one hand, restaurants struggle to hire staff, especially permanent chefs. The uncertainties of Brexit and the growing trend of agency chefs are aggravating the situation. On the other hand, some people struggle to find a permanent job. But some restaurants have found an alternative: training people who don’t have the skills required for the job but are motivated to learn and work hard. Besides, with customers being more and more engaged, this way of hiring might also be good for business as customers can now have a social impact while eating out!

Short on staff? Why is it so difficult to recruit a chef?

Shortage of staff has been a reality in the industry for years, but now it seems to be worse than ever.

Chefs working through agencies, even the less experienced ones, have higher expectations. Instead of taking the opportunity to learn and gain experience, they demand higher wage and day shifts.

Besides, about 20% of the workforce in the restaurant industry are non-UK national and, because of Brexit, many EU nationals have decided to leave the country (1). In addition, Brexit will also result in another increase of the National Living Wage, not to mentioned rising cost for imported products (2).

To address the issue of the UK’s shortage of skilled staff in the industry, the government has set a new tax, the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017. This measure should create 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020 (2). Many businesses have set up an in-house training program. If you want to set up your own in-house training academy, you will need to register as an apprenticeship training provider and meet the requirements to get funding.

According to the pubs and restaurants who responded to the 2017 Nisbets Pulse Survey, solutions to cope with shortage of staff include: hiring untrained staff (40%), increasing existing staff’s hours  (25%), using a recruiting agency (18%), starting an apprenticeship program (17%).

Word of mouth seems to be the most effective method to recruit in the restaurant industry (39%) just before social media and own website (31%). Job websites (15%) and agencies (11%) are more likely to be used to recruit experienced staff for a short period of time, such as Christmas (3). Online platforms such as Syft or Book a chef can be an alternative to traditional staffing agencies.

Inspiring examples

They were unemployed, homeless, in temporary housing… They have been trained and they are now loyal chefs.

Fat Macy’s is a social enterprise that gives young Londoners in temporary housing the opportunity to take part in cooking training and invite them to organise pop-up supper club events across London. Each event includes a three-course meal for £33. The type of cuisine depends on the theme of the event: Mexican, Jamaican, Middle Eastern… “The chefs volunteer their time, and in return accumulate credit, paid into a secure deposit fund, which is held until they have saved enough for the deposit” of their first home. Fat Macy’s has launched a crowdfunding campaign to open a permanent location in Southwark, where they could have between 12 and 15 trainees a year, to maximise their impact. They have raised over £50,000.

Fund Fat Macy's First Home

At Fat Macy's, we're 13% along the way to opening a permanent venue. We train chefs like Emmanuel to prepare and serve food, so he can save for a housing deposit on his first flat, breaking the cycle of homeless and temporary living.Watch the video and visit our crowdfunding page to get involved:

Publiée par Fat Macy's sur vendredi 11 août 2017

Social Bite is a small chain of sandwiches and coffees, running in the 3 major cities of Scotland. 1 in 4 employees came from homeless background and clients can pay forward for homeless people. Besides, the profits are distributed to charities. The concept has been extended into a restaurant called Home, in Partnership with Maison Bleue. Customers can offer meals to the homeless and training and employment opportunities are available for the most disadvantaged people.

Dockyard Social, a Section 33’s project, aims to become the first permanent street food market in Glasgow in 2018, as well as a culinary cooking school for the most disadvantaged people. Thanks to the Dockyard Social School, local homeless or unemployed people will gain skills and experience in the food industry. They will also access employment programmes, including career advice and job matching support.