Speaking to BigHospitality as part of a two-day visit to Hugh Baird College in Bootle, Atkinson said professional chefs could help fill vacancies within their kitchens if they stepped outside them and into the classroom.
"All chefs say the same thing, ‘I can’t get a commis, I can’t get a chef de partie, I can't get a pastry chef’," he said. "There's a big lack of chefs in the industry so we need to be fixing the problem at an early age and we can do that by working alongside the colleges.
"It’s vital we do that in hospitality. We have to encourage the guys at an early age and involve ourselves in their future to provide the gateway between finishing college and going into the industry."
Despite running his own busy restaurant, Atkinson regularly visits Hugh Baird College - the UK's first Hospitality & Visitor Economy Career College - to work with students there and provide them with an insight into the industry.
His latest visit included a Q&A session with Hugh Baird's catering students about running his restaurant and working with them to create a four-course dinner for 60 people.
“Getting involved with colleges is a sacrifice and away from the kitchen, but if you don’t do it then we’re never going to fix the problem," he said. "These guys are the next generation and we need to get them at that age when they’re not quite sure what kind of chef they want to be – whether it’s a pub chef, or a fine-dining chef and guide them down the right path."
Atkinson also said offering apprenticeships had helped him find staff for his business.
The former Rockliffe Hall chef took on five apprentices when he opened House of Tides in Newcastle last year and has since recruited two of them full-time.
He said: "We've still got two apprentices - one in the kitchen and one front-of-house which is great. The others fizzled out because it turned out it wasn't what they wanted to do, but it has been a useful exercise and it's great to now have two full-time members of staff who've been with us from the beginning."
For more information about Career Colleges visit www.careercolleges.org.uk