The steering group tasked with drawing up a new industry-stan-dard foundation skills course for bakery moved to clarify issues surrounding the future of bakery qualifications, following sector skills council Improve’s announcement (BB, pg 6, 14 November) that it would be reforming the structure of qualifications.

A baking industry representative steering group had been working to set up the first Natio-nal Skills Academy (NSA) for bakery, which would offer an industry-standard entry-level course to teach a thorough understanding of the baking process for people already in employment. The draft curriculum for the new NSA bakery foundation skills course (years one and two) received unanimous endorsement at the steering group meeting last week, which featured representatives from craft, plant and ingredients industries.

The group, Academy ’champions’ Campden BRI and lead college Leeds Thomas Danby, had carried out an analysis of industry needs, arriving at around 12 core product topics.

Rachel Combret, representing Warburtons on the steering group explained: "We felt there was real added-value for emp- loyees in the industry in understanding how an ingre-dient such as flour works, not just in bread production but also in pastry, biscuits and cake."

Meanwhile, Improve plans for a radical qualifications reform, which would recognise workplace skills outside the NVQ structure for the first time in 20 years, starting September 2009. Last week, the NSA met with Improve to discuss how the foundation course curriculum might fit within the new Improve qualifications framework.

While the Improve modules would be available for employers to pick and choose workplace competency and on-the-job skills development, the NSA foundation course would teach all the fundamental baking skills needed for people to move easily across all sectors of the industry, from craft to in-store and plant.

Improve’s development director Derek Williams said: "The new bakery foundation course seems to align well with National Occupational Standards for bakery. The standards will provide modern, fit-for-purpose qualifications to meet employer needs."

The steering group is now analysing the options of how to deliver the curriculum, develop the support and training mate-rials and secure the funding for running the pilot course.