Helen Gregory

Tesco has followed in the footsteps of its competitors by launching its first bakery apprenticeship scheme.

The chain has taken on 225 apprentices from staff already working at its in-store bakeries, who will study for 12 months for a City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate for Proficiency in Baking Industry Skills.

Tesco joins a number of its rivals in offering recognised qualifications: Sainsbury’s opened the UK’s first supermarket bakery college last year in an ambitious drive to train hundreds of staff, while Morrisons already runs a bakery apprenticeship scheme using colleges at Birmingham, Tameside, Glasgow and Barking to train staff during the nine-month course. Morrisons has also just announced that it is to create 6,000 new apprenticeships in 2011. A spokesperson said the supermarket was looking to take on around 150 bakers.

Meanwhile, Asda is "currently in the process of developing our bakery training programme even further", said a spokesperson for the supermarket. It currently uses bakery coaches to train in-store bakery staff and sends bakery managers to ’stores of learning’ for training.

Tesco’s scheme has been designed in partnership with Improve, the Sector Skills Council for Bakery, and YMCA trainers will deliver training in stores around England, in four-hour blocks each month. Apprentices will also get paid time off to complete their workbooks, studying modules that include mixing and proving dough, baking, packing and merchandising.

Tesco apprenticeship manager Nick McGlashan said: "The apprenticeship schemes we’ve had in other sectors have proved to be a good springboard into management. This is an end-to-end scratch bakery apprentice-ship with 12 different workbooks. It’s a robust qualification."

All the trainees have already been working in its in-store bakeries for at least one year. "There has been a lot of interest in the programme and we had no problem filling the places," said McGlashan. "The intention is to extend it, as we are confident it will work."

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