North-west company Greenhalgh’s Craft Bakery has struck a partnership with Wigan Technical College to take on 12 apprentices a year in a “brand new initiative”.

David Smart, Greenhalgh’s director and president of the Craft Bakers’ Association (CBA), aims to improve skills in the sector through training young bakers.

“We have created a Greenhalgh’s apprenticeship course in collaboration with Wigan College and agreed to take in apprentices because we are big enough to do so,” he told British Baker.

Smart plans to recruit 12 apprentices for a three-year programme, whereby the students spend two days a week at college and three days with the bakery. Greenhalgh’s runs 62 shops, supplied by two bakeries near Bolton.

However, recruitment is proving tough and the bakery still has eight places to fill before the course kicks off in September. Smart said he would approach other colleges to fill his quota if the 12 hopefuls could not be recruited from Wigan Technical College alone.

He said: “I am the national bakery president (of the CBA) and one of my presidential promises is to re-engage the industry with the colleges.”

The students will learn theory and craft at college and gain practical experience at Greenhalgh’s. They will be paid the national rate for their age for the days worked at the bakery.