School-based baker's apprenticeships highlighted at Arimdale

Tony Smith demonstrates the art of meat pie judging.
Tony Smith demonstrates the art of meat pie judging.

Moxon’s Bakery in Mann Street hosted 36 Year 10 students from schools in Armidale, Uralla, Emmaville and Gunnedah for the Baker’s Association of Australia’s Apprentice Showcase Day on Wednesday morning.

Five workshops were set up for the students throughout the bakery to provide them with a practical taste of the wide-range of skills associated with the trade. 

A couple of the workshops were presented by Moxon apprentices, giving the students a chance to talk about bakery careers and gain a first-hand perspective.

BAA executive officer Tony Smith said there was a shortage of people taking up trades and he thought it was important to remedy that.

The biggest issue is that everyone’s geared for Year 11 and 12 and then university.

Tony Smith Executive Officer, Baking Association of Australia

“There are many people in Years-10 and 11 who are very gifted with their hands and who are better suited for a trade and not university. What we are trying to do is encourage a group of students who are interested in food preparation to take up the baking trade,” Tony said.

“Today we’re bringing them in to do a few workshops, engaging them with some employers in the New England region and offering them just a little bit of work experience so from there they may be interested in taking an apprenticeship.

“School-based apprenticeships are good because they allow the student to stay at school. They have one or two days off a week at TAFE or in the bakery, and if they may get to a point where they may think ‘This is not really for me’, they’ve still got the option to stay on at school.”

Senior pathways adviser for School Services Darren Fromson described the day as brilliant for schools, the TAFE and the bakery industry.

“To try to get students interested in the bakery industry, or in any trade is a positive for any industry,” he said.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in this day, we have a student here from Gunnedah and there was going to be students from Narrabri attending, who just couldn’t get out of school today.

“We’re looking at doing another one closer to home for those students in Narrabri. These sorts of days are on the rise everywhere.”

Third-year apprentice Kyah Valler is leaning about pastries, breads and cakes. She attended TAFE for two years while at school, said she absolutely loves her career, but still had a lot to learn. 

Apprentice Kyah Valler shows Imogen Garrett and Danelle Hall around some cakes.

Apprentice Kyah Valler shows Imogen Garrett and Danelle Hall around some cakes.

Jack Harris is two-and-a-half-years into his apprenticeship and said he is already way ahead of his mates who elected for university.

“I’m nearly finished the TAFE component of my apprenticeship. My mates left school a year ago and have nothing yet because they’re just starting to get their qualifications.” he said.

Moxon’s Bakery owner Roger Bourke said it was difficult to find people to employ and thought school-based apprenticeships could partly solve that problem.

“A forum like this today, brings in the people who are genuinely interested in this, not people who just want a job. We’re chasing people who are interested in our industry,” he said.

“There’s a worldwide shortage of bakery people. You get your qualifications and you can name you own price really. We’re short of skilled people.

Mr Bourke said skilled-based apprenticeships were a perfect way for students to remain at school while gaining part of an apprenticeship that would be there for them after they left school.

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Retired master pastry chef Ron Taylor, who had trained more than 20 apprentices during his career, was there on the day to demonstrate some of the skills required.

He said bakers needed to be passionate about what they were doing and be able to cope with the sometimes anti-social working hours.

“They’re here working while their mates are all out  having fun,” that’s what I mean by anti-social,” Ron said.

“We look for these kids, we hold onto them and we take them to the highest level as we possibly can. Competing overseas, having jobs overseas, some of the large hotels overseas are always looking for the top-line decorators and people who are excellent at what they do.”

This story Baking industry Apprentice Showcase Day hosted at Moxon’s Bakery first appeared on The Armidale Express.