Most craft bakers would be happy to spend time and money on staff training, a poll by British Baker on behalf of the National Skills Academy (NSA) has revealed.
It found that 92% would release bakers for training at least once a month, with 46% willing to sacrifice at least three days each month if it meant workers learned the necessary skills.
The NSA steering group for bakery is currently developing an industry-standard vocational entry-level course to teach a thorough understanding of the baking process for people already in employment, teaching the fundamental baking skills needed to move easily across all sectors of the industry, from craft to in-store and plant.
Many small bakeries would welcome a foundation course and most would expect to pay for it; it has been suggested that this would involve 12 modules and almost two-thirds (62%) reckon £100 to £200 would be a fair price for each day’s training.
Less than half the polled craft bakers (46%) currently offer a formal in-house scheme or the chance to do an NVQ, although 15% give employees three or more days off to train each month. Most do on-the-job training on an ad-hoc basis - either by choice or because there is no other option.
"We’re lucky that we’ve got a lot of long-serving staff in the bakery so haven’t needed to send people on training courses, but that could change in time," said Mark James, commercial director of Sayers the Bakers in Bolton. "The foundation course sounds like a good idea, particularly to train in how to create a product ready for manufacture. We would be prepared to invest time and money in that."
However, some companies feared they might not have candidates to send on a new course. David Smart, production director at Greenhalgh’s Craft Bakery in Bolton, said: "The issue for us is finding people to train - they can be reluctant to do the NVQ, although it’s getting a bit better as they realise that skilled people are in short supply and the remuneration is slightly better."
The academy’s aim is that every bakery business in the country should have access to quality bakery training. It is developing a universal qualification that teaches a fundamental understanding of bakery. A pilot scheme is due to launch soon.
=== Questions posed ===
1. DO YOU CURRENTLY OFFER/SEND STAFF ON A TRAINING SCHEME?
2. HOW MANY DAYS A MONTH DO YOU FORMALLY DEVOTE TO AN EMPLOYEE’S TRAINING?
Up to two: 39%
Three or more: 15%
3. HOW MANY DAYS A MONTH WOULD YOU ALLOW AN EMPLOYEE TO BE RELEASED FOR TRAINING?
Less than one: 8%
Three or more: 46%
4. WOULD YOU CONSIDER A BLOCK RELEASE OF EMPLOYEES FOR TRAINING?
5. HOW MUCH WOULD YOU CONSIDER A FAIR PRICE TO PAY FOR A DAY’S TRAINING?
Up to £100: 31%
Up to £200: 31%