COMMENT: xxxx

Are people in the hospitality industry appreciated enough?It's a question we have to ask as many businesses struggle to fill vacancies now that coronavirus restrictions have eased and people are going out again.

Thursday, 26th August 2021, 12:00 am

It must be so frustrating to finally be back open, yet unable to attract the staff necessary to cater for the pent-up demand.

Today we report how restaurant owners across Portsmouth say they are left wondering where all the chefs have gone.

Kevin Bingham, who runs Restaurant 27 in Southsea, reckons he has never seen it so bad.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Plenty of people want to book. But reluctantly he has had no choice but to cut back opening hours to a four-and-a-half days a week and limit table numbers.

So why is it proving so difficult to find the right people to work in restaurant and cafe kitchens?

The sector has been hit by something of a perfect storm, with the effects of the pandemic and Brexit combined reducing the number of people who would normally be seeking work in the trade.

People on furlough have found other jobs, while more than 93,000 EU workers have had to leave the UK hospitality industry over the past 12 months.

But Kevin is also critical of how schools have cut home economics classes and Kathy Dyball, director at Caterer.com, believes the government must help the catering industry.

Clearly more needs to be done to raise the profile of chefs and make it a more attractive career option - and that should start in the classroom with hospitality education as part of the curriculum and go right through to universities offering hospitality degrees.

Because if we don't tackle this serious skills shortage, the hospitality sector that is such an important part of our local economy will continue to suffer for years to come.