United we stand

01 February, 2008
Every year there has been some form of cut in funding for bakery training, says Sheffield College tutor Chris North, so the industry needs to unite behind the proposed model
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In the news last week came reports that the government will be reintroducing home economics. Fifteen years ago they didn't want to know and now all the teachers have dropped out. It's like shooting an athlete in the foot before they begin a race.
In our own industry the Doomsday clock stands at three minutes to midnight. It is important you all know that colleges have not had a free hand with the direction it has taken. Our industry lead body tells us what we can teach and the government tells us how much money they will give us to do it with. Every year there has been some form of cut in funding to contend with. And I suspect the colleges will have difficulties with the new skills framework.The Anglo/Welsh training scheme had experts, some industry backing and co-operation from some colleges, but was not economically viable.There is a dearth of skilled bakery educated staff. My view is that we should have a bakery skills centre, locate it central to the country, near the motorway and have it governed by reps from all the industry sectors. The centre would set its own standards, have funding via a tax on a raw material, such as flour, and use colleges and training providers (working together) to fill the widening skills gap.BB has provided a forum so you can make your views known and the Association of Bakery Students & Trainees has worked out a formula for a National Skills Aca-demy for Bakery (BB, 25 January, pg 16). Let's unite behind this model and provide a new, united bakery training provision.=== Skilled workers are in short supply === There is a massive shortfall in the level of skills in bakery, with many employees being functionally illiterate and over 50% falling below Level 2 qualifications (five good GCSE passes). If the industry is rise to the consumer demand for better and more innovative products at a competitive price, this area needs to be challenged.The primary focus may be apprentices. Last year, there were 96 bakery apprentices from a workforce population of 96,000. Improve, the skills sector council says the apprenticeship route has been reviewed and the new pathways are intended to enable candidates to develop into skilled craftspeople, managers, supervisors, machine operatives etc. This route aims to allow the sector to develop its own talent and deliver the people in the right place with the right skills at the right time.

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