Young people on the Gold Coast are being urged to consider a career in the kitchen as the region’s restaurants and cafs struggle with a growing skills shortage.

There are more than 60 vacant positions for trainee and apprentice chefs on the Coast right now – and that number will soon surge further as employers begin recruiting for the summer and Christmas peak season.

Despite a youth unemployment rate of 12 per cent, Careers Australia Industry Development Manager Casey Pippen said many young people in the region were reluctant to consider commercial cookery as a career option.

“There’s a perception that being a chef involves unsocial hours and low pay,” Pippen said.

“But the industry on the Gold Coast is rapidly changing and those perceptions are becoming increasingly outdated.

“Like any job, salaries start low and then get higher once chefs become more capable.

“The great advantage of becoming a chef is the sheer number of opportunities available – not just in Australia, but around the whole world. Good chefs are wanted everywhere.

“The rise of a thriving daytime caf culture on the Gold Coast also means that working hours are becoming more social, with fewer split shifts and earlier finishing times.”

More than 50 chefs are enrolled on Careers Australia’s commercial cookery course at Burleigh, learning all of the skills they need to succeed in the food industry.

Matt Burke, owner of the Raw Energy cafes in Burleigh and Coolangatta, has recruited nine school-leavers to his business through Careers Australia and believes young people on the Gold Coast have lots to offer.

“When I started out it was a real struggle to find chefs and there is still a huge shortage here on the Gold Coast,” Burke said.

“But we’ve worked really closely with local schools to sell the industry and we’ve definitely reaped the rewards by hiring a lot of great, talented young people.

“It helps that we don’t have any splits shifts and a lot of young people are familiar with our cafes and love what we do.

“We choose people carefully and our new recruits have always been hard-working, ready to learn and enthusiastic about taking on new responsibilities.

“They really enjoy working here and I know we’re giving them a great start in their careers.

“I think the lesson is that you have to work hard to reach out to young people and grab their attention – once you do that you can build a fantastic team.”

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