Megan Roberts, bakery and patisserie technology BSc (hons) student looks at ways the bakery industry could engage with the next generation of professionals.

Bakery students often get asked how the industry can help them – a topic fellow student Jessica Dalton, winner of the Baking Industry Awards 2017 Rising Star category, and I addressed at the British Society of Baking’s conference last month.

There are many ways in which the industry could reach out to students, such as masterclasses, internships, industry visits, work experience and financial support.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a range of bakeries and ingredient manufacturers across the UK, who have invited me in for site tours and experience days. These have been so beneficial; even in a short time with a company, there is so much that can be learned.

Trade bodies also create opportunities for people at all industry stages, from students to experienced bakers; courses by the Worshipful Company of Bakers, for example, include some of the aspects mentioned above.

But not all students have the confidence to go out into industry, and this barrier could be removed by holding career days at universities. This would enable companies to showcase what they do in what, for students, is a more familiar and relaxed environment. In such circumstances, students would not find it so daunting to make the first crucial step of introducing themselves to industry members.

Arguably, one of the most important things for newcomers, and those established in the industry, is networking. Without this, students wouldn’t be able to form alliances with people in industry who may one day be their employer, while people from industry wouldn’t be able to meet the talented young people who could become the next generation of bakers.

And there are many opportunities for students to network with people in the industry. These include the Baking Industry Awards, which are the ‘Oscars’ of the baking industry and are filled with potential employers and new connections. Most recently, the BSB conference enabled me to be introduced to so many knowledgeable and inspiring people from the industry.

It is also essential to communicate with students through platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. I’ve applied for opportunities and competitions advertised on Twitter, and am constantly messaging companies through LinkedIn for new opportunities and support on my dissertation. For many students, communicating through a virtual platform removes the fear of that first introduction.