Two young female bakers filling pie crust

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The baking industry is being urged to support a new level 3 lead baker apprenticeship said to open the door for the next generation of bakers to flourish.

Level 3 builds on the level 2 programme, which was rolled out in 2020, and is based on traditional bakery apprenticeships while embracing the modern-day requirements for being a lead baker. It focuses on more complex bakery products, knowledge and skills, and also includes leadership of areas of production in a bakery, as well as developing teams.

The programme was approved in September and launched earlier this month by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) – the government department responsible for developing and funding apprenticeships. It means that people of all ages either working in high street retail or manufacturing bakery environments will have access of up to £9,000 of funding through a college or independent training provider via the apprenticeship system.

A ’trailblazer’ group formed of bakery employers and stakeholders was created to help develop the programme, with hundreds of hours volunteered as part of the two-year approval process. The group was chaired by George Fuller of Fullers Bakery with input from Geary’s Bakeries, Morrisons, Lesaffre, AB Mauri UK & Ireland, British Bakels, Heygates, The Bread Factory, and Burns the Bread, along with awarding organisations, The Alliance for Bakery Students, and training providers.

“Congratulations to George and other bakery businesses on finally seeing this Level 3 Baker apprenticeship to launch,” said Terry Fennell, CEO of FDQ – a not-for-profit food specialist awarding body and end-point assessment organisation.

“The baking industry has been crying out for a more ‘technical’ programme for apprentices to be made available and the funding is now in place for small businesses to consider staff training and/or larger employers to utilise their levy to put apprentices through the programme. I would urge employers to take a look at the new standard,” Fennell added.

To coincide with the launch, FDQ held a ‘call to arms’ meeting to spread the word about the new standard with industry leaders. FDQ also highlighted that from August 2025 only ‘employer-led’ and occupationally specified qualifications will attract state funding for students.

Sara Autton, technical bakery consultant and 2023 recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to the Baking Industry award (partly due to her work with students), described the apprenticeship as a “progressive step towards management roles” for those looking to advance their careers in this way.

“It is vital that the baking industry as a whole is fully engaged with the development of these qualifications in order to create a career path that is meaningful to bakery students and trainees whilst ensuring that the knowledge and skills they are taught are relevant,” she added.

“The pace of developing technology and emerging issues is such that this relevance will only be achieved by close collaboration between bakery businesses, qualification bodies and bakery education providers. It is the only sustainable way to develop a workforce that has the right skills and knowledge that fit the future needs of the industry.”