Strong hiring amid hurdles
The industry continues to see a high demand for quality staff. High rental costs, rising food prices as well as the new minimum wage policy are the main challenges for catering business owners in Hong Kong. Hence, employers need to control their spending and will only invest in hiring high-calibre professionals with strong experience and qualifications.
Instead of traditional apprenticeship, business owners now prefer formally trained candidates and require proof of qualifications and reference letters. They must also be skilful and understand the code of ethics and personal hygiene in the kitchen. In return, they are better paid - salaries in the industry have gone up 20 to 30 per cent over the past few years.
Employers used to hire people from abroad for senior positions. But as local talent has become better trained, with improved communication and management skills, it is now much easier to hire locally.
Better training of kitchen staff will also benefit the industry in the long term as it will provide more quality staff and improved food, safety and hygiene standards.
Wine and menu knowledge is also an asset. Candidates with attractive personalities can hope to eventually step out of the kitchen and work with management to nurture customers.
Mark Wong, principal, Hong Kong Culinary Academy