The situation in the UK’s bakery colleges is a cause for concern to the whole of the industry.

If the present trends continue, then the majority of employees in the craft baking industry will have no access to a bakery college. It is precisely because of this situation, which has been worsening for a number of years, that the National Association of Master Bakers (NA) decided to act.

The NA now delivers training and qualifications to employees of craft bakers from the Scottish borders to Cornwall. So far, the NA has been responsible for 222 NVQs and 52 apprenticeships and is now the largest provider of bakery education in England and Wales. The employees are provided with distance learning tools, which provide their underpinning knowledge, which is vital to our industry’s future.

Working with enlightened employers, the NA’s training advisers choose the skills the employee needs to achieve their apprenticeship. For those who have completed their apprenticeship and wish to continue further, the NA can help them achieve an advance apprenticeship in craft bakery.

It is sad when a system, which has existed for so long and served the industry so well, has to change. But the future is in work-based learning, with the employee in the bakery assisted by skilled external training advisers.

David Smith, NA chief executive