Pictured is Graham Usher
An unprecedented number of new businesses opening in York is leading to a chronic shortage of chefs, kitchen and front of house staff, one of the city’s top hoteliers has warned.
So concerned is Graham Usher, General Manager of the Best Western Monkbar Hotel and chairman of the York Hotelier’s Association, that he has called an emergency “staffing summit” for tomorrow.
Mr Usher said that in all his years in the industry he had never known there to be such a shortage of chefs, which, he added was now at crisis level.
Recruitment agencies both regionally and nationwide are, he said, unable to meet the demand for new catering staff. Of the recruiters surveyed, sixty per cent reported that they were unable to meet demand from restaurants over the festive period due to a skills shortage.
The findings from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation come from businesses surveyed across the country last month. Ninety-three per cent of the agencies questioned said that there were not enough chefs to meet growing demand.
This comes at a time of record expansion in the restaurant sector nationally and in York itself, which is exacerbating the problem.
Mr Usher said: “York’s hospitality sector has weathered many crises over the years, but this shortage of chefs and catering staff is unparalleled. And with new restaurants opening on a weekly basis, it is only going to get worse.
“This shortage of chefs can only get worse when demand is at such an all-time high. Combine that with uncertainty about skilled immigrants following the EU referendum, and we face a profound crisis for York’s hospitality industry.
“If chefs and skilled catering staff on the regional and national job market continue to decline, restaurants and hotels will be forced to either pass on higher recruitment costs to the customer or simply go out of business.
“The council just can’t keep on giving permission for new bars and restaurants when there isn’t the staff to work in them. If they do then it will lead to serious problems. Corners will be cut and customer service, hygiene, food standards and job satisfaction will all be the losers.
“The panel of local experts I am assembling will work towards mitigating and solving the recruitment and skills issues being faced in York. We aim to bring our findings and suggestions to the relevant bodies in education, training and local government.”