== Terry Sharp Head, Baking & Cereals Processing Department CCFRA ==

There is an old joke. A managing director is telling his human resources department that times are hard and there will be no money for training. Cut to a year later and he is saying that business is much better, doing very well and, as a result, there is now no time for staff training. This may sound familiar.

The National Skills Academy (NSA) for Food & Drink Manufacturing has recently formed a steering group for the bakery sector. Their aim - to organise the provision of training, at various levels, to our sector - is laudable. Network providers (including CCFRA) and champions are being identified and enlisted by the NSA, and an increasing number of firms are turning their thoughts to participation. This is good news and should be encouraged at every level.

Yet we also have to consider the other side. No amount of good planning and organisation will, in itself, ensure take-up of what is offered and attendance at training events. The contract is between those that offer training and individuals and companies that have the need for it.

There is a view that it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract delegates to events. However good the programme, it is getting harder to persuade people to give up their time to attend.

Why? Because they have short-term priorities that have to be met, so training can wait. The challenge is to persuade those working in the baking industry that what is on offer is so valuable that it should be their first priority. We can only achieve this by clearly defining the benefits that training can bring to the workplace