29 September, 2006
My sister Jenny and I are con-sidering a career in baking, but have found it a difficult industry to get into and there are very few places where one can train properly. We came across your article 'A Night in the Life of Nathan & Ross Kavanagh' in your 18 August issue and were inspired by them. We contacted them and have since spent two shifts with them, which have been great experiences and an opportunity to learn from real bakers. We hope to continue to bake with them.
Thanks to your article, Jenny and I were able to find extraordinary bakers, who still use traditional methods to create truly exceptional bread.We'd like to see more articles like this in British Baker as good bakers need support.== external training is vital Elizabeth Jefferies, Hungerford ==With regard to your Simple Country Baker article in British Baker, 1 September, pg 17, I feel that, as the wife of a very hard-working training assessor, I must point out a few facts.Firstly, if "bits of paper" are so unimportant, then surely GCSEs and A-levels are also not worth the paper they are written on and young people should go out into the world and expect prospective employers to take their word that they have a high degree of knowledge in their chosen subject.A very small percentage of employees stay in one bakery for life, as most of us know only too well if we are honest. So they do require proof of their ability when moving on.Not all employers have the time or the patience to train junior staff in their busy working environment. So the so-called "pen pushers" do a lot of it for them, by checking what they can do and physically helping them to learn new skills required in their particular employer's business - not to mention teaching them numeracy and communication skills. With the failure of the education system to send students out into the world with very little knowledge of the 3-Rs, many would be doomed from the start.The people you call the "failed staff" put in an enormous amount of time and effort into keeping up with the government's bureaucracy of form-filling and so on - and all for a far-from- inflated salary.If you took more interest in talking to the assessors themselves, to gain some real knowledge of what they do, instead of demeaning their efforts, and in talking to some of the employers, who are grateful for what they have done, you might be surprised. I understand that Mr Phillips was never trained as a baker, even though he has been fortunate enough to have found good staff to do the practical work for him, with his obvious administration skills to make it all work. But not all have been so fortunate.I hope that, in future, you will consider, before putting pen to paper, that you are writing about your fellow National Association colleagues.== trade run by financiers Stephen J Ley, South Devon ==In 1958, I started in the bakery trade in my family business in Bristol, gained a National Bakery diploma at Cardiff and, in my time, have worked for several firms, which have since closed or merged into larger groups. I left the trade in 2003, taking voluntary redundancy, but still take British Baker.The trade is now run by financiers. There is a lack of skilled production staff, enormous pressure to reduce wage and raw material costs and broad use of migrant labour. A short while ago, there was an advertisement in BB for a bakery technologist, paying £17,000 per year. Yet, with all the skill and knowledge needed for this position, the pay level should be £25,000. Since 2003, I have been delivering motor parts on the minimum wage of £10,504 a year.== learning opportunity Sean Tennyson, West Sussex ==