Major steps have been taken towards a pan-industry qualification in underpinning bakery skills, with four leading firms signing up to a pilot scheme that launches in September.

The pilot has been developed by an industry-wide employer-led bakery steering group that represents craft, plant and supermarket bakers, alongside the National Skills Academy (NSA). The four employers include McCam-bridge, Sayers and Slattery’s, with one to be confirmed.

The 10-module course - previously titled ’Foundation Bakery’ - has been renamed ’Professional Bakery’ to reflect its aspirational appeal, and will be pitched at NVQ Level 2 standard. "This is to raise the aspirations of the people taking part and reflect that they are doing something different and special," said NSA co-ordinator Jonathan Cooper.

Over 20 employers "showed a significant interest in the programme", said Cooper, and the four participating employers will put forward up to 45 delegates. "Feedback from employers has been incredibly positive. They could see that the course modules fitted well with their businesses and ticked all their boxes."

The steering group agreed the learning objectives of 10 modules and content is now being honed by six participating colleges: Tameside, Thomas Danby, University College Birmingham, Leicester, Liverpool Community College and Brooklands. They will develop course material for each unit, which will then go to the steering group committee for final approval.

Flexible delivery methods will also be outlined, such as on-site, online and college-based options. Steering group chair and craft baker Ian Thompson said: "It has to be flexible because there are so many different set-ups out there." The course will also be mapped against the new national Quali-fications and Credit Framework to provide robust accreditation.