Following a meeting with the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) on 5 February 2018, Rt Hon Anne Milton – minister of state for skills and apprenticeships – has pledged to arrange a meeting during which participants will endeavour to come up with solutions to the current equipment skills shortage in the catering industry.
Keith Warren, CESA director, commented that the focal point of the meeting with the MP was to explore the demand for an educational system that focused on the required skills, led by employers. This system would also need to take into consideration individuals entering or working in engineering. It has been recognised that an education skills system would help to ease the shortage.
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Purpose of the meeting
The 20-30 participating organisation of the forthcoming meeting will include trade associations such CESA, foodservice businesses, and equipment suppliers such as those that supply commercial catering equipment. One of the main hopes of the meeting is for representatives of the separate sectors to establish a common strategy for career progression and skill development.
Warren points out that many of those employed in the hospitality sector eventually move on to instigate and develop careers with catering equipment supply chain organisations, perhaps with a specialist such as https://www.247cateringsupplies.co.uk/, highlighting the clear connection between the two.
Need for a new education skills structure
Warren reiterated the importance of interaction between organisations to develop a range of strategies to alleviate the current skills shortage. He also acknowledged that the employability of individuals leaving school and/or university needs to be boosted, actively encouraging them to build careers in catering equipment.
A fundamental issue that CESA members were keen to raise was that there are currently schools and colleges that do not invite SME representatives in to give career advice. It was suggested that this was due to schools and colleges directing students down the university route rather than offering them the opportunity to explore apprenticeships. Rt Hon Anne Milton expressed her concern upon hearing the issues raised by members of CESA and offered to investigate further.
The minister further cemented her commitment and awareness of the shortage by offering her attendance at a round table event to promote engagement between the different employers in relation to skills development, which is seen as a critical area of business.