Curry Colleges fill up but work continues to make sector an attractive place to work

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cinnamon club, Employment

Places on the six-week pre-employment programmes at the Asian and Oriental Centres of Excellence have now been filled, but more can be done to keep interest high, says The Hospitality Guild
Places on the six-week pre-employment programmes at the Asian and Oriental Centres of Excellence have now been filled, but more can be done to keep interest high, says The Hospitality Guild
Places at the UK’s so-called ‘Curry Colleges’ are filling up fast after a slow start, but work still needs to be done to make the sector more attractive to a future workforce according to The Hospitality Guild.

In September, the Guild, responsible for launching the Asian and Oriental Centres of Excellence at five UK colleges​ to help address the skills shortage left by a tightening of immigration rules, reported that only half of the 50 places​ on the pre-employment training course had been filled. 

Now, according to figures obtained by BigHospitality, 61 people have enrolled on the course with many going on to complete work experience at one of 40 restaurants signed up.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that more people are taking part in the Asian and Oriental pre-employment programme, as we feel this offers an outstanding training and career opportunity in hospitality, but we’re not stopping here,” said Suzy Jackson, executive director of the Hospitality Guild. 

“We still have a number of top restaurants in the industry that would like to hire apprentices, so we’re going to continue working with them to ensure home grown talent is developed and businesses grow and thrive.”

Industry support

So far 40 restaurants within the Asian and Oriental sectors, including The Cinnamon Club, Hakkasan Group and Café Spice Namasté have lent support to the scheme, offering those who complete the six-week training programme the chance to start an 18 month apprenticeship. 

One of the first people to complete the six-week course is 30-year-old Mathew Weston. He is currently completing an apprenticeship as a commis chef with The Cinnamon Club in London and said despite not considering the industry as a career option previously, was now keen to work in it. 

"I didn't know much about the hospitality industry before. I was actually looking for work in IT," he said. "The Job Centre suggested the course and I decided to give it a go. This is hard work, but it's really enjoyable and it's very satisfying to be learning a new skill." 

Work to be done

Jackson said while the scheme's take-up was encouraging there was still work to be done by both employers and the Government to help make it a success and ensure there were enough candidates coming through in the future to fill the places, particularly as more colleges had asked to set up the centres of excellence. 

“We have a lot more to do to make this part of the industry an attractive career destination, but Government colleagues can also help make it easier for employers to target and recruit those looking for employment,” she said.

"Industry too must address this issue if businesses are going to survive and grow. Local business owners need to develop their own networks regionally to engage with schools and colleges, Jobcentre Plus and other organisations supporting youth employment. 

"The Hospitality Guild will continue to develop the Asian and Oriental pre-employment and apprenticeship programme and seek every opportunity to increase capacity."

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