I’d like to reply to the comment by tutor Jim Bridge in the 16 May edition of BB, about the fact that we need to be looking at 13 to 14-year-olds. Alas, most school careers officers don’t have a clue about bakery as a career.
I had a good relationship with two of the three local senior schools, especially the home economics teachers. Pupils designed and decorated cakes and I was invited along to judge them and award a small prize.
Kids then came on a bakery visit and even for work experience. Some of the results would have graced a craft baker’s shop.
Over a decade, the bakery employed 10 school-leavers, trained them in-house, and allowed them to attend Birmingham college to learn Cake Design & Decoration or Bread & Confectionery. One lad excelled and ended up winning a prize at the Cardiff Exhibition.
However, in the late 1990s, home economics was taken off school curriculums. This did a lot of harm to the industry, and my own supply of school-leavers dried up, compounded by careers officers giving little or no information to youngsters looking to enter the bakery trade.
Now, with childhood obesity, moves are afoot to reinstate home economics. Birmingham College runs a Saturday morning course, and goes out to schools. Their bakery students have moved into the 21st century.
The National Association of Master Bakers has moved on, too. When Graham Nash was NA president, 1998-99, he went to Birmingham College to open the refurbished bakery department. Out of 50-60 people invitees, only one career advisor attended.
If a meeting were arranged now, I don’t think many, or even any, careers advisors would attend. The ’in things’ at the moment are the leisure industry and IT. It is something this industry needs to put right.
Eric Cran, past NA president