CESA meeting prompts minister to focus on catering equipment skills shortage

CESA has encouraged the government to focus on apprenticeships for the catering equipment industry.

CESA’s meeting on 5 February with Rt Hon Anne Milton, the minister of state for skills and apprenticeships, and Semta (the Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance) has resulted in the minister committing to host a meeting to help the industry meet the challenge of the skills shortage.

Keith Warren, director of CESA, reported: “The main discussion looked at the need to develop a responsive, employer-led, fit for purpose education skills system for employers large and small.

“Just as importantly, it has to work for individuals entering the engineering sector and those already employed within it.”

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The meeting will involve 20-30 organisations, including trade associations such as CESA, equipment suppliers and major foodservice operators. It will look at how the separate sectors can work together to develop strategies for careers development.

“Many people working in hospitality move over to develop a career in the catering equipment supply chain,” Warren pointed out. “The synergies are clear.”

The minister also offered to attend a roundtable to stimulate active engagement from employers in the business critical area of skills development.

Warren added: “We need a whole new set of strategies to meet the skills shortage challenge. We have to improve the employability of those leaving our schools and universities, and encourage them to look at a career in catering equipment.”

One key issue raised by CESA members is that some schools and colleges no longer welcome representatives from SMEs coming in to offer careers advice.

“There seems to be an increasing focus on getting students into university, as opposed to following an apprenticeship route,” said Warren. “The minister was very concerned to hear these stories and intends to investigate the issue.

“I would be grateful if any other catering equipment companies who have experienced this would contact the CESA Secretariat. Encouraging apprenticeships is a key strategy in meeting the skills shortage.”

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