I was sad to receive a letter from the National Association of Master Bakers (NA) informing me that it was to close its training arm (see BB, 26 January, pg 6) and felt I could not let this pass without comment.
I have been in touch with bakers who use this service. A comment from more than one of them is: "If we cannot have training, why are we members of such an expensive association?"
To me, this is a retrograde step. We are one of the few industries that offer training by bakers for bakers. We have a unique situation, whereby the trainers actually work with the awards councils. This training is not free; I pay a monthly amount to cover costs and happily provide free accommodation for my assessor.
Many of us accepted the introduction of charging for NVQs, as we do not believe that training should be free. But many feel that making a huge profit through training should not be at the top of the agenda. The introduction of these charges has not yet run for a year; I wonder if projected income was included in the decision.
As this appears to be a cost-cutting exercise, will the association be making redundancies and reducing salaries, having lost the only area where there is potential to make a profit? A decision of this level, removing a whole section of the association, should have been made at conference, with all the regional parties allowed to bring forward their representations. A full and frank discussion and a vote by the whole association could then have taken place.
Elaine Ead, regional president of the South West, NA