Pickles planning “curry college” to train British nationals

By Rachel Parkes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: United kingdom, Government

Government wants British chefs to make the perfect jalfrezi
Government wants British chefs to make the perfect jalfrezi
Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles is planning a UK “curry college”, in an effort to plug the skills gap caused by the Home Office immigration cap on chefs from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The proposals, contained in a yet-to-be-released report on “tolerance and integration”, would see the government backed the college training up British nationals in the skills needed to staff the UK’s £3.2 billion curry industry.

Details will be released in “due course”, a spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government told BigHospitality.

New rules on visas for non-graduate chefs from outside the EU, launched in April 2011, have exposed the UK’s 13,000 ethnic restaurants to massive staff shortages.

“British Asian restaurants and takeaways make a vital contribution to both the national economy and the local community,” the Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said. “However in order to achieve the Government's aim of reducing net migration, under the revised point-based system only the top 5% of the most skilled chefs qualify for admission to this country.”

"The Government is continuing to look at how it can best support British talent in Asian cuisine, working with the sector to ensure employees have the right skills,” she added.

The plans form part of the government integration strategy, currently being developed by a number of Whitehall departments, which aims to "support British excellence in the Asian and Oriental catering" sector.

A spokesman for the British Hospitality Association (BHA) said the prospect was encouraging for the industry.

“The BHA would support the concept of a school to encourage young British people into training in Asian and oriental cookery,” he said. “There are already some schools and private institutions offering this kind of training. A new school, if successful, would help plug the skills gaps caused by the government migration policies.”

He added: “There are many Asians born in Britain who are British nationals. If they can be encouraged to take up cookery in their own cuisines that would provide a new source of talent for the ethnic restaurant sector.”

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