02 May, 2008
Scotland needs the government's help
== Kirk Hunter ==
Scottish Association of Master BakersYou know you are important when the government devises a policy just for you. That's been the situation in recent months for Scottish bakers considering Scotland's first National Food Policy.The consultation exercise has just closed and the response of Scottish Association of Master Bakers (SAMB) is in. What have we asked for? A government to work with us in making baking more competitive, innovative, skilled - and profitable.New policies should be constructive and enabling, and not focused on additional regulations and limitations. These are reasonable requests and we look forward to the next phase of debate.However, the main thrust of our response was critical. It concentrated on how bakers feel badly let down on skills. In the South, talk is of the exciting initiatives underway regarding skills academies and centres of excellence, and of the massive amounts of money now available to train within the workplace under the Leitch Report recommendations. Scotland seems to be going its own way on all this and the direction of travel is worrying. Under- funding of workplace training - both for youngsters and, more critically, older workers, will undermine the very people the government is busy telling us are so vital to the Scottish economy - bakers and the rest of the food industry.The funding gap compared to England and Wales is alarming. Lack of action now will guarantee that future generations of bakers will be facing major shortages of skilled workers and that will damage businesses and the Scottish economy.