Jim Williamson and his family took over the long-established Perth bakery, Murrays the Bakers, in 2021 from Past President Linda Hill who had been the fourth generation of her family to run the business.
One of Jim's early priorities was to bring Scottish Bakers/National Food and Drink Training into the business to deliver apprenticeships to key staff, including two of his children, Osea and Romali, who both took a keen interest in learning the craft.
Jim is very clear, when asked, about his motivation for bringing Modern Apprenticeship training into his business.
"Having a young family ourselves we were aware of the lack of opportunity for young people who wanted to enter the trade and we also see it as an encouragement to those in our business who have been there for many years."
Jim retained membership of Scottish Bakers and engaged with the association on several occasions as he got up to speed with the demands of bakery trade. He was soon put in touch with a member of Scottish Bakers National Food & Drink Training (NFDT) team, who helped him with their apprenticeship journey.
"As a member of Scottish Bakers and having worked with them on other aspects of our business they made it very easy from the initial contact and discussing the program to the implementation of it."
Osea is undertaking Food & Drink Operations at SCQF level 6 for management and Romali, Bakery Skills at SCQF level 6. Both qualifications offered the opportunity to tailor the units to suit specific business needs, for example: maximising sales of Food & Drink products; controlling stock levels; diagnosing and resolving production problems and producing and evaluating specialist individual dough and confectionery-based products for NPD.
Although they have yet to finish their programmes, Jim already sees a difference in Osea and Romali's skills and performance as they work towards their completed apprenticeship.
More than that, there is a benefit to others in the business as they see the training being delivered as a strong commitment to the success of the business and the skills and welfare of the workforce.
In Jim's words,
"It has not only encouraged them [Osea and Romali ] but all who they work with."
In terms of lessons learned along the journey so far, Jim is equally candid about the benefits of apprenticeship training to the business.
"It has made us more aware of the basics that we usually take for granted and how important that they are to the business."
Over and above this, he notes not only a definite improvement in staff motivation and increased productivity, but also new ideas and ways of doing things.
"Improved profitability and reduced wastage have been an encouragement as we find more efficient ways to manufacture," says Jim.
What's clear is that apprenticeship training has had a greatly positive impact in the business and will be an important part of their approach to supporting workforce development in the future.
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