If it goes on like this, kitchens will be closed.


The skills shortage is a major challenge in the gastronomy sector

In every sector, everyone is talking about the skills shortage. This is also very much the case in the gastronomy and catering sector. The trade magazine Catering Management justifiably proposed in its April 2019 issue that the scarcity of trained personnel should be voted the “gastronomy (un)word of the year – or rather the decade”.


Main reasons for the skills shortage

The lack of skilled staff is prevalent in many professions, most of which are vocations requiring an apprenticeship. This is one of the biggest challenges for the labour market and is a problem that will occupy us for a long time to come. It goes without saying that companies need skilled personnel. Although many manufacturers develop products that automate processes in the kitchen so that skilled staff are no longer essential for those processes, trained personnel are still required in order to be able to innovate, be competitive and to grow.

Demographic change: fewer employees

It was foreseeable, but too little was done. According to current estimates, there will be a shortage of three million skilled personnel in Germany by 2030 – and that figure is set to rise. Before, companies looking to fill a vacancy could choose from a great many suitable applicants. Those days are long gone. Even worse: these days, it is often the case that there are no suitable applicants. On average, every third vacancy in the gastronomy sector remains unfilled.

University instead of an apprenticeship: an image problem

Careers requiring an apprenticeship have lost their appeal. There are too few young professionals coming up through the ranks as a result. School-leavers with A levels are choosing to go to university in record numbers. Those who do decide on an apprenticeship mostly choose technical or commercial vocations. In addition to this, the proportion of apprentices who drop out of their apprenticeships is very high among trainee chefs and restaurant and hospitality sector specialists. Why is this? “Soft benefits” such as flexible working times or a good working climate are more important to young applicants than ever before. Apprenticeships are hardly synonymous with good earnings and self-determination, and young people are no longer willing to put up with it.



Shortage of skilled staff in gastronomy

The lack of skilled staff and young professionals in gastronomy poses particular challenges for human resources officers and managers:

  • why should a kitchen employee cling to one position when it is so easy to find another that sounds much better (at least at first)?
  • • Unusual, mostly long working hours, stress and lack of appreciation mean there is little appetite for vocations in gastronomy and catering. Why should a young school-leaver choose such a career? Apprenticeship levels in gastronomy companies are at their lowest levels since 1976.
  • Or, having already started an apprenticeship, the trainee discovers too late that he or she has made the wrong decision. In terms of vocations offering apprenticeships, the highest level of trainees breaking off their training is found in the gastronomy sector (42–50 %).

It is high time to tackle the skills shortage

There is already a shortage of skilled personnel in many gastronomy and catering businesses today. Now is the time to create better working conditions in which employees are happy to work and to find new ways of recruiting new staff and retaining them for the long term. It will be tough to deal with a lack of young professionals coming through the ranks – much harder than it already is today.


Skills shortage: a multi-faceted topic

One single article cannot do justice to the topic of the skills shortage with a particular focus on gastronomy and catering. The topic is far too complex for that, which is why we are examining the topic in several parts.

  • Employer branding: smartening up for employees
  • Spicing up recruitment: new ways of finding employees
  • Retaining staff instead of constantly seeking new ones: inspiring and obtaining employee loyalty
  • What the future holds: young professionals are essential
  • Automated and digital: the kitchen of the future