Chef shortages leading to restaurant closures

A shortage of chefs will result in the closure of restaurants, according to the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI).

The RAI says that 5,000 chefs are required by 2016 to fill the thousands of vacancies in the industry.

The RAI is calling for the re-establishment of ‘CERT’, which is a former State Training Agency for Tourism in Ireland, in order to train chefs to fill these jobs.

According to the RAI, it has gotten to the stage where some restaurants now face closure, let alone being able to stay open for 7 days.

“Restaurants are closing midweek now,” said RAI CEO Adrian Cummins. “Usually on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, because they can’t have a 7 day operation, due to not having a chef.

“They might have a head chef, but they mightn’t have enough chefs to keep it going for the rest of the week. Because of this … you’re talking about 5% of all restaurants currently closing because of that reason across the country.”

Cummins believes that CERT should be re-established, yet at the moment there is no talk to suggest it will happen.

“We believe that bringing back CERT is the right thing to do, and at the moment the ball is in her [Minister of Education Jan O’Sullivan’s] court,” he said.

“We would be advocating that she would, and we will be doing everything in our power to work with her to do that.”

When asked if it was an issue concerning wages, Cummins replied: “It’s not an issue of wages at all, it’s because chefs aren’t training enough.”

Conor Roban is currently Kitchen Manager in Boojum, Dublin (Millennium Walkway).

“Cases of people getting paid €450 to work 70 hours and more a week are common,” Roban said.

As someone who deals with staff in restaurants, Roban explained that, “A stressful environment results in a large turnover of staff and so a lot of people will head off to other countries where they know they will be paid a real wage as a skilled workforce.

“I think people being under paid feel under-valued,” he added.

Many people applying for the positions currently are deemed not to be appropriately qualified and this reflects the fact that there is not enough chef training centers, according to the RAI.

Currently 1,800 chefs qualify each year from certified culinary training programmes.

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