Dave Williams, training advisor and bakery lecturer at Truro and Penwith College, on the work undertaken by Truro and Penwith College and local businesses to deliver a new Bakery Apprenticeship

The landscape of training in the baking industry has changed significantly over recent years. I started my career just over 40 years ago, at the age of 16, as an apprentice at Eddy & Sons, a bakery in the Cornish fishing port of Newlyn.

In recent times the route into the industry has looked very different. A trend has developed where south west colleges are grouping apprentices from bakeries with those from restaurants studying professional cookery programmes, to provide one-size-fits-all training. With no dedicated college-based bakery apprenticeship training available this side of London, Cornish bakeries, in particular, are opting to train new members of staff in-house to do a very specific job.

While this approach develops an adequate workforce to get the job done, it restricts an employer’s ability to succession-plan and many have started to lose employees who were multi-skilled with a rounded knowledge of the industry as their workforce ages.

I started working at the college after selling my bakery in 2011, having taught for a seven-year stint at City College Plymouth earlier in my career. Initially working on the professional cookery apprenticeships, I received enquiries from learners and employers about dedicated bakery training programmes.

With a belief that the demand was there from both sides, I approached Jason Jobling, director and chief operating officer at Warrens Bakery, and Mark Norton, director of Prima Bakeries, who were both keen to work with us on designing a specialised bakery apprenticeship.

Working with other college members, we identified that awarding body FDQ (Food and Drink Qualifications) had a Level 2 qualification that we felt would provide learners with the basic craft baking skills and rounded knowledge of the industry that had been lacking in the area.

Ahead of delivering the new Apprenticeship Standard in October, we have worked closely with Stephen Salt at Sheffield College, one of the UK’s largest providers of the programme. His help has been invaluable.

We hope the new programme will help preserve the traditional craft of Cornish baking, providing a real option for the county’s employers. We are working hard to ensure everything is in place by October and hope to start looking at a Level 3 Apprenticeship programme during the next academic year, to give our employers the option to train bakers for the next stage of their career.