We don’t have many bakery courses in Scotland which is why a training advisor from the Scottish Association of Master Bakers visits my bakery - Macleans Highland Bakery in Forres - once a month.

I work full-time and fit in essay-writing and practical exercises around the job. My advisor, Graham Shewan, keeps a folder containing the different course units and has watched me finishing products to make sure I have the necessary skills. My bakery manager has been great during the course too, and makes sure that I’m working on the right things when Graham comes to visit. So far I’ve studied confectionery, finishing and piping cakes, as well as dough production, baking and proving.

I feel that I’ve got as much from the experience as students who go to college as I’m always learning something while I’m working. I think it’s easier than just finishing a college course and then trying to prove to an employer you can do the job, when you don’t know what it’s like to work full-time.

So far during the apprenticeship, I have worked on confectionery at the bakery and also learnt dough production on the night shift and was promoted to savoury supervisor recently.

I’m doing NVQ Level 3 now which is a more functional management course and hope to finish the apprenticeship by the end of the year, which will mean I can take on a supervisory role. I’ve enjoyed most of it, such as placing orders and stock-taking, apart from the modules on health.

I started at the bakery in a dispatch role when I was 17 and worked the night shift on Friday when they offered me an apprenticeship on leaving school. I didn’t mind missing nights out with my friends.

== early starts ==

Some part-time workers grumble when you ask them to do things, which I never did. I know that baking is a challenging job for a lot of people as you have to start early, but it’s so important that we get young people involved.

I like the variety here as you’re doing something different every day. I love moulding and shaping loaves like wheatsheafs and wouldn’t want to go back to slicing bread. I also love confectionery as it’s so creative. People always appreciate it when you’ve made a sweet treat. You are more hands-on in a small bakery and it’s nice doing things from scratch. Our bakery is particularly up-and-coming with 60 staff and three shops.

I’d like to have my own bakery one day, in a local high street, which is part of the community, but I don’t usually think that far ahead as I’m happy here. I’ll take it a small step at a time.

It’s a battle for small bakers who are developing tasty products while the supermarkets bring out cheap rolls. But if you can make a more expensive loaf that tastes 10 times better then I think people will be willing to pay for it. It’s very important to offer choice. We’ve got a big Tesco superstore near us, which we compete against but we also supply them with rolls.

Getting a ’highly commended’ in the Student Baker of the Year competition was great as it’s put our bakery on the map and my boss was really chuffed. I was pleased to get commended but I really wanted to win. It makes me want to try even harder. n