UKHospitality has warned the Government that a delay in the introduction of the new catering T-Level will only exacerbate recruitment problems for the hospitality sector.

The first 52 colleges to provide the new technical qualifications have been announced, but the introduction of the catering T-level has been delayed with only digital, construction and education & childcare initially available.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The introduction of the new qualifications and the emphasis on vocational education is a step-change in providing the skills the country needs for a more productive future.

“However, although it is encouraging to see the Government begin to promote the possibilities of technical and vocational education, it is very disappointing to see the introduction of the catering T-Level delayed.

“Hospitality businesses are facing a potentially very costly skills shortage and employers need support in order ensure that vacancies are filled. Recent industry reports showed that the sector would need an additional 11,000 chefs before 2020 and that almost 1 million new staff members would be needed by 2022.

“With Brexit-related uncertainly regarding the future of the workforce continuing to cause problems for employers, it is vital the Government takes every available step to support employment in the sector.

“Clearly, businesses are going to need significant support in filling these gaps and a delay to the introduction of the catering T-Level, if only by one year, will mean that employers are on the back foot.”