Tommy spent four years working for The Kandy Bar, in Saltcoats, as a "van boy" whilst still at school. He enjoyed the environment and the people but did not consider a career as a craft baker.
Tommy initially attended a bricklaying course at his local college after leaving school, but he quickly realised this wasn't what he enjoyed doing. He approached The Kandy Bar owner, Stephen McAllister, who was quick to offer him an apprenticeship opportunity which started in July 2019.
"We've always taken on apprentices going back to when the McAllister family started baking in Saltcoats in 1929, and it's a tradition we think is important".
"I enjoyed my time with The Kandy Bar when I was at school and the business has a great local reputation as an employer, so I saw this as a good opportunity for me,".
Tommy immediately felt at home in The Kandy Bar, and the apprenticeship programme allowed him the flexibility to learn at a pace that suited him. Tommy was particularly grateful for the support provided Gary Steele, Training Adviser with National Food and Drink Training (NFDT).
"Gary really helped me to develop and work through the qualification. He was really patient and became part of our team on the days he spent with me. I couldn't have learned so many tips and tricks without his guidance and I couldn't believe how quickly I ended up working through everything,"
Stephen McAllister Agrees, "Gary was an outstanding resource for us to have in The Kandy Bar. He's an experienced baker in his own right, but he had a fantastic way of working with Tommy that got the best out of him in a short space of time."
Tommy completed his Level 2 Craft Bakery Modern Apprenticeship with The Kandy Bar, in January 2020.
Tommy is very aware of the new skills he has developed, and he now feels far greater confidence in his job and on a daily basis knows what he needs to do and how to do it without being directed.
"Seeing Tommy working consistently and with great attention to detail is wonderful. He's matured a lot in the past few months and I'm proud of what he's achieved. And it's even better to see him become a valued member of our Kandy Bar team."
Tommy agrees about the sense of teamwork, "I've learned that enjoying work is as much about being part of a team as the work itself. I've realised how important it is that everyone helps the business."
Stephen McAllister is clear about the future, "It's vital for the future of our business and trade that we bring in new talent to carry on the great artisan skills needed to keep producing high quality products every day."
Tommy is now determined to keep developing his skills as a baker and hopes to progress to the Level 3 Apprenticeship which Stephen would support as he views this sort of training as essential to the long-term survival of this traditional sector of the Scottish economy.
"Great quality and good productivity come with good skills," says Stephen, "and the apprenticeship helps us deliver on both of these."
Tommy's greatest compliments come from the customers though, who always seem to know when he has been making the Yum Yums!
National Food and Drink Training (NFDT) was established in 2015 as a rebrand of Scottish Bakers training provision. This was a direct result of the strengthening of its portfolio to include lean manufacturing techniques and the delivery of the new Food Manufacturing Excellence (FME) qualifications.
National Food & Drink Training
c/o Scottish Bakers
Unit 2, Halbeath Interchange Business Park
01383 661 555