For such a successful and progressive industry, we experience surprising difficulties in connecting up with the education sector to sell careers in baking. Among teachers, pupils and parents, the level of knowledge about what we offer in careers is abysmal. A great deal more work needs to be done but bakers and our suppliers cannot shoulder it all.
A recent event, organised by the SAMB in partnership with Larbert High School in central Scotland, brought together home economics, careers and general science teachers from schools across the area to talk to them about the industry. This multi-agency approach involved bakers, suppliers, further education and local enterprise agencies, as well as Improve, and covered study and career pathways, as well as research and product development, from initial concept to final sales. The teachers were well-educated and open-minded people, yet they brought with them a series of negative perceptions about working in baking. So it was fascinating to see the scales falling off their eyes as they realised the relevance of some of the material they were teaching to food science, product development and processing jobs in industry. This was the first time anyone had made the connections for them.
This multi-agency model could be rolled out across the country. If the package is right, schools will be receptive. As an industry, we have the enthusiasm and commitment. We need the funding and coordination of government, Improve and support organisations, but if we can get our act together, the rewards could be enormous.