Fine Gael Limerick Senator, Maria Byrne, said the Restaurants and Foodservice sector in Ireland is facing a crisis shortage of Chefs and Skilled Hospitality Staff.
Senator Byrne said: “There has been a critical shortage in this sector over the past number of years and the situation is deteriorating.
“The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs indicates that up to 5,000 chefs are needed annually between now and 2020 to keep up to pace with demand.
“But currently only about 1,800 people qualify each year from certified culinary training programmes.
“Across the wider hospitality sector, there are gaps in basic skills and experience at entry and junior level and at management level. There is also a need for tourism entrepreneurs and product development.”
She continued: “The shortage also represents an issue for the wider economy. In European terms, we are almost twice as dependent on the hospitality sector for jobs as other countries.
“It employs some 158,000 people, or 8 per cent of employment across the economy.
“One of the changes to be considered is making the career path attractive for those who want to make the sector a long-term career choice.
“In the hospitality sector – and particularly in culinary roles where the main shortage lies – pay is often low and hours are unsociable. This must be addressed.
“There are a range of courses available for school-leavers or CAO applicants which span all levels from further education courses, ranging from certificates to ordinary degrees.
“Some further education colleges and the institutes of technology also offer honours degree programmes (level 8) in hospitality management.”