October 2013

Bakery recruitment hits new record in wake of Great British Bake Off effect

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The number of trainee bakers at UCB has soared to an all-time high, thanks in part to the popularity of the Great British Bake Off.

Professional bakery courses have been booming since Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood started demonstrating the secrets of focaccia and fondant fancies on BBC television. Now enrolment on UCB's Level 1 Food Industry Skills has smashed through 100 for the first time.

Student numbers rose 37 per cent in the first year after Bake Off was aired in 2010 – and the numbers have just kept rising. Last year, recruitment was up 22 per cent to 95 would-be bakers. New enrolment for 2013-14 stands at 107, with trainees aged from 16 to 50.

Now UCB, which is home to the country’s largest training bakery for further education students, plans to launch its own “Bake Off” degree. The foundation degree in Bakery and Confectionery Technology Management is aimed at entrepreneurs hoping to become chocolatiers, patissiers and artisan bakers.

The course has already attracted huge interest from potential students even though it is not due to be launched until 2014-15. It will include artisan bread making, advanced confectionery and chocolate, and product design and development.

Bake Off, now in its fourth series, has been a ratings hit and attracts five million viewers.

Bake Off has had a massive impact. The show has introduced young people to the subject and reignited older viewers’ passion for making bread and cakes. Back in 1998, we had just 10 first-year students on the course. Last month, 107 enrolled at UCB. Bake Off is great fun but it has also given the art of bakery a professional dimension. The final contestants get to a professional standard and that has got to be good news for the British bakery industry, driving up standards and raising awareness about job prospects. Our students progress to all sorts of successful careers in craft bakeries, in-store bakeries, food manufacture and food product development.

Dawn Gemmell, UCB assistant dean and head of bakery

UCB’s bakery courses now attract a broad age range of students.

Mother-of-three Manjit Palak, 49, of Harborne, Birmingham, enrolled last month. The office manager, who is a fan of Bake Off, said the programme had inspired her to follow her dream of setting up a bakery or cake shop.

Bake Off has definitely inspired me to take this course. It is amazing how good the contestants are considering they are not professionals.

Manjit Palak

Manjit is the oldest student in her class and is baking and decorating Mickey Mouse-style butter biscuits alongside one of the youngest, 16-year-old Caitlin Painter, from Stourbridge.

I plan to have my own online cake business. My daughter loves it when I come home with the cakes I have learned to make.

Nysha Clegg, 24, of Castle Vale, Birmingham

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