Just under third of 16- to 24-year-olds (30%) would consider working in Asian or Oriental restaurants, but half of the apprenticeships offering work and training in the sector remain unfilled, according to a new YouGov poll commissioned by the Hospitality Guild. The Hospitality Guild recently launched five Asian and Oriental Centres of Excellence in England - so called curry colleges - to address the skills shortages faced by employers in the sector, following the immigration cap which restricts their ability to recruit skilled chefs from outside the EU. However, of the original 50 apprenticeships offered at those Centres of Excellence, around 25 have yet to be filled. The Centres of Excellence are a government-funded initiative to train unemployed people to become chefs specialising in Asian and Oriental cooking. The pilot scheme is a six-week pre-employment training programme, followed by an apprenticeship. Nearly 40 high-profile Asian and Oriental restaurants have committed to taking on apprentices, including the Cinnamon Club, Blue Elephant and La Porte des Indes, Tamarind Restaurants, Hakkasan Group, the Brilliant, Café Spice Namasté, Lasan, and China Express. Suzy Jackson, executive director of the Hospitality Guild, said: “There are more than 11,000 Asian and Oriental restaurants throughout the UK - roughly one in 10 of all restaurants - employing over 70,000 people. We have leading employers in the sector signed up and committed to offering apprenticeship programmes but we've not been able to fill the final handful of training places we have available. It's encouraging to see that a third of young people would consider a career within Asian and Oriental cuisine but we need to work together to reach them and explain the fantastic opportunities available to help people find worthwhile jobs. “With high levels of youth unemployment it's frustrating that employers are still struggling to recruit and we can't fill our apprenticeship scheme. In a recent Omnibus survey, we found out that almost three-quarters of the British population (73%) didn't know that the hospitality industry has been booming and continues to recruit, so we are looking to spread the message far and wide. This is a great industry to be in and it should be considered as the industry of choice when you leave school.”

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