Industry bodies join forces to fight shortage of pub and bar chefs

Roxanne Allen, Young Chef

Leading trade organisations have joined forces to fight the shortage of chefs and improve chef skills for those working in the pub and bar sector.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) have been working together to find solutions to tackle the growing chef shortage that operators face as eating out continues to rise.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmons said: “With the eating out market growing at around 2.8%, and further growth expected throughout 2015, we need to take action to attract and train young chefs who can develop their skills as our sector continues to be at the forefront of this trend.”

To highlight the huge opportunities for young people in the sector, the BBPA has created a video to inspire young people to pursue a pub chef career. The film, a snapshot of the fast-paced arena of the pub kitchen, will be promoted around schools, colleges, and universities to help raise awareness of the opportunities and aid in recruiting the most promising candidates into the industry.

The video features footage from pub kitchens, as well as face-to-face interviews with young chefs from across the country, and provides a real insight into the life of a pub chef.

“Pub chef is an exciting, demanding career that offers young people development, rewards and a great working environment. This new video will recruit a new generation of young people into the industry, injecting much-needed new talent into pub kitchens,” Brigid added.

The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has responded to the industry need for qualified kitchen staff by launching a Level 2 Chef Apprenticeship qualification in pub chef skills and operations. The qualification guarantees a curriculum of key skills are covered and assessed and formalises on-the-job training, helping to standardise skills across the industry.

The apprenticeship covers key topics including food safety, teamwork, conflict resolution, the basics and principles of a comprehensive range of dish preparation, cooking theory, stock control and licensed hospitality operations.

BII chief executive Tim Hulme said: “The new qualification is equally suited to pubs and bars already offering apprenticeships as well as those looking to start recruiting apprentices. The qualification combined with the release of the film will highlight the career and learning opportunities to help stem the pub chef skills shortage.”

The Perceptions Group, the industry-led organisation championing pub and bar careers, is set to launch a new website later this year, complementing a newly launched blog-site at where you can hear what it is like to work in the kitchen direct from young chefs.

More personal stories on the wider range of careers on offer can be found on the group’s website,

Perceptions Group vice-chairman Anthony Pender said: “With the pub and bar sector worth around £18billion to the economy and 15million people visiting pubs each week we are a hugely important industry. We need to attract, nurture and provide a credible pipeline for talent to encourage more people to take a career in this sector seriously.

“We need to demonstrate to parents, teachers, careers advisors and the like that we are not an industry of pocket money jobs but one of opportunity, skill and a triumph of meritocracy.

“The new website will pull all this together and enables a wealth of information and employment opportunities to be found at the click of a button.”

One of the young chefs who starred in the video, James Agutu, started as an apprentice and has progressed to kitchen team leader in just three years. “To be trusted at 21 to plan and create my own menu is a privilege,” James said. “If you put in the hard work and dedication to your career, you will reap the rewards.”

The chef film can be viewed here:

Pictured: young chef Roxanne Allen at the launch event for the campaign at The Happenstance bar in London. Photograph by Simon Jacobs.

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