From education to employment

Education and training in the catering industry

The catering industry continues to grow year on year, with new trends and restaurant designs influencing how the industry approaches food, and customer’s attitudes towards restaurants and the food that they eat. We have seen the rise of pop-up food venues and street food, whilst the trusty traditional restaurants still open their doors day after day, filling the demand for social dining.

The industry is in a great place, with 75% of respondents last year claiming their business has seen a progressive increase in business by mid-year. But with the industry growing, is there enough budding young chefs entering the industry that can carry the continuous growth?

With catering colleges, university courses and apprenticeships available, which form of education is the most effective? Provider of catering equipment, Nisbets, investigate the best paths for young chefs to enter the industry, and whether an unrealistic representation of the industry in the media is having an effect on a young chef’s decision to enter the industry.

Catering colleges & university

There are currently 23 institutions in the UK that offer catering courses. In a recent survey by Nisbets, 26.5% of respondents thought that a culinary school or college was best way to enter the industry.

Culinary schools are particularly popular in the US too. There were approximately 2,290,000 chefs in 2015, of which 118,000 (19.4%) of them were head chefs. Of those 2,290,000 chefs, 12.4% have a bachelor’s degree, 28.7% have a high school diploma and 16.2% have an associated degree.

Their culinary schools have around 30,000 graduates on a yearly basis, and 10% of those go on to land a head chef position.


Enrolling onto an apprenticeship has become a popular way to get into working life and an industry. When looking at the statistics, in 2015/16, there were 509,400 apprenticeship starts in England – 9,500 more than the previous year, 26% of which were under 19s and 30% of people ages 19-24. In the same year, 32,000 of those apprenticeships were in hospitality and catering – the fourth most popular framework.

A catering apprenticeship will see budding young chefs entering the catering industry and learning on the job. This form of training and education is more hands on and practical. Apprentices will learn the tricks of the trade in real life scenarios, and will be doing the job whilst they learn.

In the recent survey by Nisbets, 51% of respondents believe learning on the job is the best way to enter the job – this could be because they can deliver realistic expectations of the reality of working in a kitchen and life as a chef, from the word go.

It’s worth noting that in another survey by Nisbets, 16% of respondents claimed to have difficulty recruiting staff for their business, and 17% said they have started an apprenticeship program to overcome this issue.

Apprenticeships give companies the opportunity to recruit new staff and train them on the job to meet the company’s requirements.

The power of the media

The catering industry has always had a presence across the media, from print to digital platforms. But how does the media portray the catering industry – and does this influence young people’s decision to pursue a career within the industry?

According to Nisbets, 68.5% of respondents in a recent survey believe the media does not give an accurate representation of real world kitchens and real life as a chef.

62.6% of respondents felt that people entering the industry have an unrealistic expectation of the industry – which is no surprise as the media continues to portray an inaccurate representation. Cooking TV shows are more popular than ever. From Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen, to Master Chef and The Great British Bake Off, there is no way to avoid them.

The industry still believe that the portrayal is unrealistic. Caterers believe young people are too heavily influenced by what they see on TV and believe the industry to be the ‘latest fashion’.

With this in mind, is this positively or negatively affecting the industry? The media has a powerful influence on the younger generation who have grown up with digital media, and mobile devices around them.

Whilst the representation might not be accurate, 34.1% of respondents believe the media’s representation to have a positive effect on recruiting young staff, in comparison to 16.1% of respondents thinking it has a negative effect. If TV shows are encouraging young people to join the industry, it could lead to new opportunities for the industry. 

Related Articles