5 curry colleges were created in May 2012 with the purpose of training local chefs. This move was made to try and combat the shortfall of chefs in the curry restaurant field, caused by tougher immigration rules which meant that overseas chefs could not be brought into the UK as easily as they could in the past (chefs now need to have at least 5 years’ experience and must be paid at least £28,000 a year).
The courses in the 5 colleges were set up, in Birmingham, Manchester, London and Leeds, with just under £2 million and, so far, they definitely look to be failures. The college have the capacity for 70 trainees and there are only 16 being trained. A total of 25 trainees enrolled for the courses but 9 have dropped out already. Leeds City College did not manage to enrol even 1 trainee. These numbers have been released by the Hospitality Guild. The courses last for 6 weeks and then the trainees are offered 2 year apprenticeships in order to learn their trade (a lot of restaurant owners are currently prepared to take on apprentices).
The jobs are out there once the apprentices have qualified and restaurant owners seem to be worried about where they are going to source future chefs.
Restaurant owners and the Hospitality Guild continue to promote the colleges because there’s a realisation that the immigration rules are not going to be relaxed in the near future and the curry industry needs chefs.
Millions of curries are made in restaurants each year. There are something like 9,500 curry restaurants in the UK (which include Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani restaurants) so it looks like you’ve got a job for life if you become a curry chef.
Hopefully the curry colleges will persuade a lot more people to enter the industry so that we can keep enjoying restaurant and takeaway curries.