The proportion of bakeries that have arranged or funded training in the past 12 months has fallen by 17%. It went from 70% in 2007 to 53% in 2010, according to a new report from Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, prepared by BMG Research.

This represents the largest decrease in the food and drink manufacturing and processing (FDMP) industry, with the total proportion of FDMP employers that provided training in the last 12 months falling from 67% in 2007 to 57% in 2010.

Yet both the plant and craft baking sector do not think these figures are necessarily a cause for concern. Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson said the plant baking sector doesn’t generally have a huge staff turnover, so training tends to be cyclical. "We are not aware, and nobody has intimated that they’ll be reducing their training," he said.

National Association of Master Bakers chief executive, Gill Brooks-Lonican said with the bite of the recession craft bakeries could not always afford for staff to go off on a training course.

Dunn’s of Crouch End owner Christopher Freeman said training was still important to his firm, and all staff were encouraged to do it. His one-shop craft bakery has put around 10 staff through training over the past year and Freeman said there were no plans to cut this back.

The bakery sector is the largest in the FDMP industry with the highest number of establishments (30%) and is the biggest employer (26%). Employment in bakery (up 2%) bucked the trend of double-digit declines in meat, fish and dairy from 2005-08 (ABI 2008 data). However, evidence of skills gaps were highest in the confectionery sector (25% of employers have a skills gap) and bakery (21%).