The John Lewis Partnership is launching a Chef Academy to help tackle labour shortages in the hospitality sector.
The company added there was potential to increase the number of vacancies in the future as part of a “long-term commitment to support the hospitality industry”.
The move came as research by UKHospitality and the British Beer & Pub Association revealed that staff shortages in the industry are reaching “critical levels”, and that around 76% of hospitality operators currently have chef vacancies.
The Partnership’s Chef Academy apprentices will receive training on a variety of work environments, including cooking hotel breakfasts, fine dining meals, and event catering.
“The UK has always delivered some of the world’s best chefs, but that has come under threat in the last two years as the industry has come under increased pressure,” said JLP executive chef Michael Abadee.
“The academy is a huge opportunity for people with a shared love of great food to be inspired and develop the skills they need to become the country’s future chefs.”
The partnership’s Chef Academy will primarily be based in Odney, Berkshire, but trainees will also get the chance to work at other locations, including Leckford in Hampshire, Ambleside in the Lake District, Bala in Snowdonia National Park and Brownsea Castle in Dorset, as well as the JLP head offices in Bracknell and London.
Those who successfully complete the course will receive their Professional Commis Chef Level 2 qualification, which will help them launch their careers in hospitality.
UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls welcomed the announcement. “Vacancies in hospitality are at a record high, costing the industry £21bn in lost revenue as operators are forced to trade fewer hours or close for whole days,” she said.
“In a climate such as this, initiatives like this one are an important part of efforts to ease the crisis.”