Thomas the Baker, based in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, has seen eight of its section managers and charge hands achieve their NVQ Level 3 at the same time.

The bakery started the NVQ programme in 2002, appointing college Thomas Danby in Leeds to plan and deliver training and assessment in partnership with the senior management team. The programme is part of the company’s long-term training and staff development strategy, which is linked to business performance. Each member of staff who gained the latest NVQ Level 3 carried out projects and assignments centred on the requirements of the business, as well as meeting their individual needs and goals.

Forty five employees have gained NVQ Level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications and a further 12 are working towards achieving their qualifications. The company says it invests heavily in training for all sections of the workforce, including production, engineering, administration and sales. “At Thomas the Baker we aim to work as a team and ensure that everybody has an opportunity to reach their potential,” says general manager Simon Thomas.

“We have achieved this with our in-house training scheme, run in association with Thomas Danby. We have always placed a priority on training, both in the bakery and in the shops.”

Over the past 24 years, Thomas the Baker has opened 32 shops, mainly in North Yorkshire, but also on the borders of South Yorkshire and Teesside. It recently opened a shop in Castleford, which it claims has met with success.

Products benefit

“There are clear benefits from our ongoing investment in training in the bakery, particularly in the quality and consistency of our products and, ultimately, in our retail sales,” says Mr Thomas. “Our bakery team is very proud of the fact that we have won 25 independent taste tests, involving a wide range of products, including sweet mince pies, sausage rolls, curd tarts, custard tarts, teacakes and jam doughnuts. At the end of the day, it is the taste and guarantee of quality that really matter to our customers. Our continued success in retail sales is a reflection, in part, of our investment in training.”

Everyone in the baking industry seeks to maintain a high standard in their products and an ongoing investment in training, at all levels, is essential, adds Mr Thomas. “The best products need the best people, and that is a good principle to work with,” he concludes.