In late September, Labour Minister Ylva Johansson joined industry organisation Visita and the Hotel & Restaurant Workers’ Union, HRF, at Scandic St Jörgen in Malmö to launch “Fast Track”, an initiative to move newcomers to Sweden who have training and experience in understaffed professions more quickly into the labour market. Scandic is the first hotel chain that has committed to evaluating and validating the skills of newly arrived chefs on a national level.
Sweden currently has a major shortage of chefs, with hotels and restaurants in constant competition for the ones who are available.
”Chefs are among the most difficult positions to recruit for. With Fast Track, our goal is to provide new immigrants to Sweden with good prospects for entering the labour market, and we also hope to be able to hire many of the chefs whose credentials we validate,” says Henrik Dider, HR Director at Scandic Sweden.
Credential validation will be carried out at a number of Scandic hotels throughout Sweden. The instructors will be experienced Scandic staff, and will undergo training and receive UHR (Hotel & Restaurant Advisory Council on Higher Education) certification prior to commencement of the validation process. Scandic will also provide additional internal training.
”We are working with this initiative in order to solve a specific industry problem, but we also want to be involved in developing long-term strategies to improve the status of hotel and restaurant industry jobs. We see this as the starting point for many solutions in future,” says Thomas Fankl, F&B Director at Scandic Sweden.
For Scandic, Fast Track is also a means of taking responsibility and promoting integration for new immigrants. Language skill is often highlighted as a key element in combatting marginalisation and social exclusion – but Scandic doesn’t see this as a fundamental problem:
”The restaurant kitchen is one of the world’s most international workplaces – and has been so for many years. The ability to speak Swedish is not a prerequisite for cooking good food, and we feel it’s important to start with getting people into jobs,” says Mr Dider.