Winner: Robert Pashley

Senior assistant bakery manager

Coopland & Son (Scarborough)

North Yorkshire

Before joining Cooplands, Robert Pashley worked in craft bakeries, with particular experience in hand-moulded breads and patisserie. His new employer encouraged him to take his NVQ Level 2 in bakery, his assessors and trainers qualifications and a Certificate of Education. "This company takes training very seriously; it’s only by keeping up the core skills that the business keeps moving forward," says Pashley. "And it’s important that staff develop their careers while striving to maintain our corporate values. Every employee has an individual training plan and we constantly monitor, and reward, their progress."

The judges noted that the company’s policy of developing employees to the best of their abilities brought major benefits to the business, in terms of low staff turnover, high morale and a committed workforce.

Finalist: Vera Foreman

Apprentice scheme manager,

Morrisons, Bradford, West Yorkshire

Vera Foreman only went into her local Bakers Oven to buy a loaf; but within nine months, she had gone from part-time shop assistant to manager. Having achieved her NVQ Level 2 in Bakery at night school, she was ultimately responsible for all Bakers Oven training.

She joined Safeway as an ISB manager, but quickly became involved in devising the company’s apprentice programme. When Safeway was taken over by Morrisons, she was asked to develop bakery training for her new employer. Now, the once-limited apprentice scheme is training around 200 bakers each year and Foreman says the demand for new bakers is ongoing. "I’m totally committed to the industry and my students," she says. "I love seeing people walk away with a career, not just a job."

Finalist: Mike Coslett

ISB bakery operations manager

Tesco, Cheshunt, Herts

Mike Coslett helped at the local bakery while at school, going on to serve his apprenticeship. He then worked as production manager for plant bakeries, before setting his sights on working with Tesco.

He soon discovered a talent for passing on his experience and was seconded to the training division, where he worked on improving the company’s training packages, and became responsible for UK-wide training.

Now, his goal is to standardise working routines and practices. His suite of training packages is designed to "convert the rocket science of baking into best-practice".

With around 2,000 bakers on the staff, there are 500 people in training at any one time. "I like to think I’ve shortened their journey, and helped them get to their ultimate destination," he says.