Indian restaurants facing ‘staffing crisis’

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Indian restaurants are facing a “staffing crisis” caused by a shortage of trained chefs and waiters.

Restaurant leaders say the problem is being caused by a lack of training courses and a reluctance among young people to join the industry.

The Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs said the situation is so serious it is preventing restaurants opening.

Enam Ali, chairman of the trade body, said: “There is already a shortage of skilled labour available to the Indian restaurant industry. This will only get worse unless more young people can be persuaded to come into the profession, preferably having been through specialist training.

“The market is not only growing, it is becoming more sophisticated. It is demanding higher levels of skills both in the kitchens and front of house. But 99% of the staff taken on by Indian restaurants are untrained. It’s left to the restaurateurs to bring them up to the required standards.”

He called for more “centres of excellence” in Indian cooking such as the Academy of Asian Culinary Arts, at Thames Valley University, London, set up in 1998.

Professor David Foskett, associate dean of the college, blamed a lack of emphasis on cooking for children at school for the shortage of staff in restaurants.

Schools just do not promote catering,” he said. “In fact I have evidence that some actively discourage their students from applying for catering courses. The whole education system is geared towards A-Levels.”

Khawaja Shafique, chairman of the Birmingham-based Asian Balti Restaurant Association, said: “Currently only the colleges aimed at Asian restaurant businesses are based in London.

“With its high concentration of Indian restaurants, the Midlands and other parts of the country are crying out for catering academies to train new blood and ensure our industry is still around in the next 20 or 30 years.”