At British Baker, we have been inundated with news of apprenticeship uptake in the food and drink industry of late.
Of course, we have just finished National Apprenticeship Week (9 to 13 March), which could explain it, but either way it is fantastic to see the success of apprenticeship schemes and their growth, particularly in the bakery sector.
Food manufacturer Bakkavör was proud to announce that the 2,000th person to complete an apprenticeship in England’s food manufacturing industry in 2014 was one of their very own - Tasha Devey, 21. Figures show that 2014 was a record year with 2,000 certificates issued in England.
Food giant Premier Foods also announced a commitment to double its intake of apprentices for the next two years, which can only be a good move.
It has been widely documented that bakery has enjoyed immense and increasing popularity in recent years.
This is exemplified in the increased aisle space devoted to home baking in supermarkets and the swelling application numbers for bakery courses at colleges and universities. The rocketing interest is generally put down to the sector’s increased exposure on television programmes such as The Great British Bake Off and cookery shows and food knowledge in general as people become better-travelled. But an increased interest doesn’t necessarily translate to an increase in young people taking up the mantle.
Apprenticeships offer young people a structured path into industry and if we can continue to get potential newcomers excited about bakery, I think it is in the interests of all companies able - big and small - to do so.
With Wednesday’s Budget announcement that apprentice rates are to increase by 57p an hour to £3.30, we can only hope that this will continue to be an avenue of growth for embracing more eager newcomers into the baking industry.