Not all can become star chefs

Olaug V. BollestadMinister of Agriculture and Food Olaug V. Bollestad (Christian Democratic Party) Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix

Even as Norway gains Michelin stars, it still lacks hundreds of chefs and food workers and the Minister of Agriculture and Food wants to entice more people into the profession – including the art of making ice cream.

“We have won stars here and there. Norway has also just won the Olympics in cookery. It shows that there are many routes leading from food sciences. Everything from the industry to the kitchen, in hospitals and kindergartens. Or even in ice-cream,” mused Agriculture and Food Minister Olaug Bollestad (KrF) to NTB.

On Tuesday, she put on a white coat and hair net to see how apprentices make ice cream at the Diplom-Is factory outside Oslo. The industry is screaming for more skilled workers, but in recent years the numbers of food professionals have only declined. In addition, the dropout rate is high.

“One should have something to strive for, such as these Michelin stars. But I think for many of us, we may not be star chefs. It is important to appreciate this profession, which is absolutely necessary for us to get food in our hospitals and our institutions, in order to provide good nutrition for children and young people,” said Bollestad.

Remarking about the technology at Diplom-Is, Bollestad observed: “This is crazy. They make many different types of ice cream. And the technology is impressive. That means they need many types of apprentices in such a company.”

She admits that it is difficult to get enough people into the industry.

“It is actually very challenging,” said Bollestad, who is now setting up a committee to look into the matter.

Nevertheless, the Minister of Food already concluded that well-being is probably one of the most important.

“The mouth-to-mouth method is, of course for saving lives when people have a cardiac arrest but it is also very good when recruiting people. The best ambassadors are those who share their experiences they have had in a company. This means that companies should focus on this,” said Bollestad.

More professionals needed
One of those who teach at Diploma-Is is Magne Østmo. He thinks Bollestad has a difficult job ahead of her.

“It doesn’t work that much to just say it’s nice here. Because it’s nice in other places too. I think the main problem is that there are not enough people who choose vocational subjects like that in general. I remember when I was in high school and had to choose a high school. Then I was always told: choose study preparation education programmes, that’s where the smart ones end up. But I’m glad I chose a vocational education,” said Østmo.

He hopes that more people will make the same choice as him in the future.

“More professionals mean more people entering the food industry,” he added.

Well-kept secret
Leader Anne Berit Aker Hansen of the Norwegian Food and Nutrition Association (NNN) said it is a well-kept secret of how many nice jobs there are in the Norwegian food industry and that they have to become better at communicating it.

Explaining the decline in recruitment, she said: “I think it has a connection with the society we live in, where there is a very high focus on forging a career and pursuing higher education. Perhaps many parents who work in the industry themselves think that the children should pursue higher education and children get the advice from home. Combined with the fact that the industry has been far too modest on its own when it comes to communicating what they are doing.” 

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today


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