A male and female baker shaping dough

Source: Getty Images

Trade body Scottish Bakers has written to the Scottish Government to express its dismay at a delay to apprenticeship funding.

The situation, as outlined on the Scottish Training Federation’s website, is that in April each year Skills Development Scotland (SDS) contracts with employers and training providers to deliver new modern apprenticeships. Last year, for example, there were 25,000 new places. But this year, Scottish Government has not agreed a budget or number of new modern apprenticeships with SDS, meaning training providers can’t register new apprentices.

Here, Alasdair Smith, CEO of Scottish Bakers, and an independent provider of apprenticeships to Scotland’s food and drink manufacturing industry, outlines the impact the delay could have on businesses, learners, and its own operations.


Alasdair Smith Scottish Bakers

Source: Scottish Bakers

Alasdair Smith, CEO of Scottish Bakers

“Scottish Bakers received early confirmation of 481 places for registration during 2023/24. We worked hard, accordingly, with employers across the baking and wider food and drink sector to identify 85 new starts at the time of writing (45 due to commence in April with 40 to commence in May).

Because of the inexcusable delay in confirmation of funding we are unable to move on these learners: this is bad for them, it is bad for business, and it has a potentially devastating impact on our operations as a training provider.

Businesses across the food and drink sector have endured one of the toughest trading years in memory last year with soaring energy and commodity costs. The volume of learners put forward to commence training reflects an improving level of confidence which will quickly dissipate if we must delay registration.

We need action from the Scottish Government now, to confirm funding for new starts without any further delay

Furthermore, we are deeply concerned that this delay will also be used as an excuse to cut our contract volume for the year. We would be unable to withstand such an impact on our businesses finances and would have to evaluate our staffing requirement.

The bakery sector alone delivers more than £1bn to the Scottish economy and employs around 12,000 people, often in rural locations. The wider food and drink sector delivers considerably more.

Our firm belief is that staff training and development is good for businesses and creates great career paths for individuals enriching the industry as a whole.

Scottish Bakers are experts in delivering industry-standard training and we work hard with our members and the wider food and drink sector to deliver practical skills in businesses of all sizes. But we need action from the Scottish Government now, to confirm funding for new starts without any further delay.

Without action, our ability to preserve and pass on valuable craft and production skills will be compromised and countless business and apprentices will lose out. We therefore urge the government to confirm funding without delay to help support our economy.”