Chris Malec, director at Bread Ahead Bakery, discusses the skills gap facing the bakery industry and how Bread Ahead’s new academy hopes to fix this.

The Bread Ahead Bakery was established in 2013, supplying fresh bread daily to London’s Borough Market.

A daily and recurring challenge we face in the operation of the bakery is the recruitment of skilled bakers and pastry chefs. This lack of suitably skilled staff is an issue that resonates loudly across the baking industry. 

Our Bakery School opened its doors back in February 2014 and has enjoyed overwhelming growth, now welcoming more than 200 recreational bakers into its classrooms each week. We are often approached by individuals and organisations requesting a more formal training environment in which to learn the craft of baking.

So, in 2019, we will launch our first professional workshop: a 24-week course, which we are lovingly calling (working title) ‘The Bread Ahead Academy’. This course will cover core skills: bread, Viennoiserie and pastry. Additionally, each student will be exposed to extensive work experience opportunities.

What we hope will make our ‘Academy’ relevant and unique is that it is founded from a wealth of knowledge acquired from running a successful artisan bakery for several years.

Our founder Matthew Jones, a professional baker for over 25 years, is still working in the bakery today. The master bakers, who tutor over 30 different workshops at the Bakery School, have extensive experience in the industry, which they use to design and teach our baking workshops. The Academy’s curriculum has been developed by Bread Ahead colleagues working in the Bakery School and also the front-line team of bakers who produce millions of baked products every year at Bread Ahead. Everyone who worked on the Academy curriculum knows exactly what it takes to work in a fast-paced bakery, where product and quality are paramount. 

The professional course will teach students an array of technical and more general skills, including food hygiene, health and safety, sales and service, and some basic business skills. This training and exposure to industry experience will allow the development of a deeper and broader knowledge range for our students, better equipping them for the world of work and business when they leave the Bread Ahead Academy.

We welcome insights and learnings from those in the industry. Any parties who are interested and would like to get involved in this venture are welcome to contact me at Bread Ahead.