The baking industry has moved one step closer to establishing a National Skills Academy for Bakery, after a shortlist of academic institutions invited to bid to become the ’network champion’ was decided this week.

Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association and Leeds Thomas Danby are now in the running for the role, which would initially involve acting as the pilot centre before co-ordinating the national roll-out of a wholly new skills agenda.

As part of the process, current qualifications could be streamlined to better meet the needs of employers, including minimising the number of days employees spend away from work on training per week.

Dave Brooks, chair of the National Skills Academy Bakery Steering Group, said he wanted to get the pilot up and running "as quickly as possible", which would probably involve the Academy going live in 2009.

Details of possible funding, training provision, curriculum and marketing are now being thrashed out, following feedback from employers and associations. The steering group is also in discussions with major retailers, including Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.

Despite stepping down as chief executive of Finsbury Food Group this week (News, page 6), Brooks will remain chair for the planned six-month lifespan of the group.