Industry leaders hail next generation of bakers at inaugural gathering
By Darren CampbellShare post:
Read time: approx 6 mins
Leading bakery professionals have hailed the importance of developing new 'career-ready' workers for the industry after meeting with budding talents at an event held by University College Birmingham.
Undergraduate students completing their course in Bakery and Patisserie Technology at the University were joined by top employers and experts at the inaugural Bakery, Patisserie and Associated Industries Gathering on 22 May.
Held at the University's flagship Restaurant at Birmingham College of Food, the free event provided a networking environment for industry representatives and students to gain insight, develop links and discuss graduate employment opportunities.
"It's really good to have an environment where we can connect with future talent coming into the industry"
The gathering welcomed guest speakers from AB Mauri UK and the Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees (ABST), as well as representatives from a wide range of baking organisations and employers, including British Bakels, the Craft Bakers Association (CBA), The Worshipful Company of Bakers, Heygates, Barry Callebaut, Dawn Foods and Baked In Brick.
Guests attending the event welcomed the new opportunity to network with University College Birmingham's students and hailed their blend of vocational training and practical experience as 'critical' for the future success of the industry.
The event included talks from guest speakers Jason Vaghela (AB Mauri UK) and Keith Houliston (ABST)
Guest speaker Jason Vaghela, HR Director at AB Mauri UK, said: "It's really good to have an environment where we can connect with future talent coming into the industry, bridging the gap between academia and the job market.
"The fact we have people coming out who are tailor-made for employment and ready to make an impact is critically important for the industry. The environment and structure of the programmes here really enables these students to go into the workplace and hit the ground running.
"If universities didn't do an approach like here, where students learn technical skills and how to implement them, the industry itself would really struggle to keep pace with the change of consumer dynamics.
"There are really clever, bright people coming through, so the future health of the industry is looking very good."
Guests were served a buffet lunch prepared by students from our Birmingham College of Food
Also speaking at the gathering was ABST President Keith Houliston, who commended the students on their eagerness to engage with industry at the event.
"The industry is crying out for staff," said Keith. "This gives the opportunity for the trade to discuss job opportunities and talk to people.
"The attendance has been superb and it's great to see the enthusiasm from the students. It's not what you know, it's who you know, so the more networking opportunities students get, the better it is for them as well."
Neil Woods, President of the CBA, also emphasised the importance of up-and-coming professionals having the opportunity to forge links with industry early in their careers.
"I think it's invaluable for them," said Neil. "They can see the other side of the story – being at college is one thing, but out in the big wide world is a completely different story."
In pictures: Bakery Gathering, Restaurant at Birmingham College of Food
Guests attending the four-hour gathering were provided with drinks and a hot buffet lunch prepared by University College Birmingham students, as well as having the chance to explore the University's baking and product development laboratories, with potential opportunities discussed for industry partners to make use of the specialist equipment available to students.
Based at the University's Summer Row campus, the facilities feature everything from the latest industrial ovens and high-speed mixers to laser volume measuring and dough and flour rheology testing equipment, as well as specialist chocolate production and tempering equipment.
Lecturer Graham Duckworth, who oversaw the event, said: "We know that the industry needs bakers with both craft and technical skills.
"With the help of our industry partners and events like this, we hope to produce the very best college-level bakers and Bakery and Patisserie Technology graduates.
"Feedback from the industry attendees for this event has been very positive, with many of the companies attending talent-spotting for their current and future openings.
"With their support, we would like to make this an annual event and go on building our links throughout the bakery and associated industries. Thank you to all those who attended."
University College Birmingham is renowned as a leading provider of bakery training and education, offering study programmes at a variety of levels including our Baker Apprenticeship, Bakery Level 2 and 3, and our long-established Bakery and Patisserie Technology BSc (Hons) degree course.
Recent graduates from the degree course include a string of winners of the Baking Industry Awards' Rising Star award, among them Will Leet (David Wood Foods), Katie Garrett (British Bakels), Megan Roberts (AB Mauri UK) and Jessica Dalton (ABST).
Find out more about the full range of courses offered through our Birmingham College of Food.
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