After barring Indian chefs, UK plans own curry colleges
LONDON May 13: The British government has committed £1.75 million to open five curry colleges to teach Britons how to cook Indian food. This became necessary after it effectively barred entry of chefs from the subcontinent as part of a policy to tighten immigration and reduce the number of settlers from outside the European Union.
The colleges are aiming to take in 50 students in the first year, but quickly grow from that base.
Suzy Jackson of the Hospitality Guild said, "If recruits sign up to a curry college, they get six weeks of training which includes working in a kitchen. So it's real hands on stuff.
They will then get a guaranteed interview with one of our employers, which could lead to a two-year apprenticeship and they will have then got a real good chance of getting a job.for life."
But Indian restaurateur Rajesh Suri said it would be impossible to fill the jobs overnight. "Training people takes three to four years."
Indian restaurants and takeaways are a £3billion business in Britain. At least 18 tonnes of chicken tikka masala - a British Asian creation - is devoured in about 15,000 such eateries. The chilled or frozen ready meal market is worth another £2billion.
Some restaurants have either closed or are in danger of doing so as they are struggling to staff their kitchens. As a solution, the British government wants them to accept graduates from the curry colleges.
"The immigration cap is a big blow to the industry. The local curry house has been hit the hardest. They are disappearing because people cannot get the staff," said Suri.
Under the new immigration rules, chefs can only be recruited from abroad for posts paying over £28,000 a year, exclusive of accommodation and meals. They must also have five or more year experience. "We do not need executive head chefs, we need chefs who are going to do practical cooking," said Gulu Anand, a restaurant manager.