PLANS are in place to offer chef apprenticeships in a bid to tackle a decline in trained kitchen staff.

The Chef Academy scheme is being developed by the Glasgow City Region, which is made up of Renfrewshire Council, East Renfrewshire Council and six neighbouring local authorities.

It would subsidise local businesses to pay apprentices the ‘real living wage’ of £9.50 per hour.

A training fund would also be offered to existing chefs and kitchen staff to help them achieve qualifications and develop management skills.

It is hoped the new apprenticeships will boost the hospitality industry as it emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.

A number of local businesses have experienced problems recruiting trained kitchen staff, with the impact caused by Brexit identified as a significant issue.

Industry experts say several EU nationals who previously worked in kitchens have returned home since Brexit came into force.

A total of 40 chef apprenticeships are planned under the new scheme.
Four of these are expected to be in Renfrewshire, with two in East Renfrewshire.

Glasgow is set to benefit from 14 apprenticeships, with North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire each getting seven and a further two each in West Dunbartonshire, East Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde.

Recruitment is due to get underway next month and continue until March.

It is estimated that £400,000 will be needed for the first year of the Chef Academy, with the bulk of the funding – £300,000 – provided by the Scottish Government through the No One Left Behind programme and the Young Person’s Guarantee, with another £50,000 from a Covid recovery fund and the remaining £50,000 from the Glasgow City Region’s existing budget.

It is hoped the training fund will help existing workers progress to senior chef or hospitality positions, which would free up junior roles for new chefs.

A council officer working on the plan said: “The idea behind the upskilling part of this is not to reinvent the wheel, it’s about taking the existing courses and making sure they are supporting existing chefs and kitchen staff to access them.”