Media release: Skills vital to post-COVID economic success, says Scottish Bakers

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WITH lockdown easing and businesses gradually reopening, thoughts turn to the longer-term.

Begins a spokesperson for Scottish Bakers, the industry organisation for bakers in Scotland: “With the ‘new normal’ likely seeing COVID-19 remaining in circulation for some time ahead, experts believe the risk of further Coronavirus epidemics is probable.

“Therefore, bakery businesses must adapt to more demanding health and safety requirements and revised working practices both through the current crisis and beyond.

“Positive differentiation will come to those bakers able to offer the greatest protections to their customers and staff while improving efficiency and productivity.”

“Those with a culture of training and continuous improvement will have a head start and be able to adapt more readily.”

Fortunately, members of Scottish Bakers, the industry organisation with over 200 member companies Scotland-wide, have a strong history of training, with 63 per cent benefitting from government-funded apprenticeships delivered by Scottish Bakers.

The sector has been hit hard, with many retail premises closing, and most businesses furloughing staff as sales dropped heavily versus pre-COVID times.

However, the crisis has stimulated innovation too, with many businesses creating new or boosting their online presence, reaching out via social media and meeting customer demand by distanced delivery services.

Now, the sector is preparing to open more fully and a recent survey shows 87 per cent of Scottish bakers believe training is an important part of business recovery. Even during the darkest hours of lockdown, 23 per cent of businesses maintained training activities.

Scottish Bakers is committed to supporting its members in adapting and thriving within the new trading environment, and will of course operate in ways that comply with site-specific PPE and distancing requirements.

Alasdair Smith, CEO of Scottish Bakers, said: “Staff training and development is good for businesses and creates great career paths for individuals enriching the industry as a whole. Scottish Bakers are experts in delivering industry-standard training and we look forward to working with our members as soon as it’s safe for our trainers to visit other workplaces.

“But we need action from government to both encourage businesses to resume training activities and provide financial help that will help maintain our capacity to deliver high-quality skills and training to scores of apprentices when restrictions begin to ease.

“Without action, our ability to preserve and pass on valuable craft and production skills will be compromised and countless business and apprentices will potentially lose out.”

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