Media release: Bakers in Scotland call for fresh talent to help make fresh bread

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A WORKFORCE survey of its members by Scottish Bakers, the association which supports the trade throughout Scotland, has shown that the skill shortage across the spectrum of bakery businesses in Scotland is real and that, without a continued focus on upskilling existing staff and a concerted effort to bring in and train up new talent to secure the future of this skilled role, the sector could be at threat.

The survey showed that:

  • 75 per cent of Scotland’s bakers have hard-to-fill vacancies across their businesses;
  • There are issues with the quality and availability of candidates across the different roles;
  • Reasons for the poor quality of applicants is mainly:
    • Lack of experience and poor motivation/attitude cited by 75 per cent of respondents;
    • Lack of skills by 50 per cent;
  • However, the lack of qualifications is not a huge issue (12 per  ent) which suggests that the sector is happy to train motivated candidates up from within.

Scottish Bakers chief executive, Alasdair Smith, said: “As we began  to ease out of the harshest lockdown restrictions, we heard more and more about the recruitment challenges facing our members. In order to quantify the scale of this issue, we undertook a workforce survey of our members last month and the findings were revealing.

“The results showed a sector that has worked hard through the last 18 months showing grit and determination.

“A sector that has weathered the storm, building back better, ready for growth and is now looking to invest in its existing people and indeed bring new talent in, but the applicants simply aren’t there.

“Driver shortages have been hitting the headlines but the food sector, in particular our own sector, is also feeling the pinch. We need government to focus its efforts on investing in and promoting the value of apprenticeships as a positive career path so the bakers of the future see this route to success clearly and feel confident to join our sector and reap the rewards.”

Scott Anderson who is training and quality manager at National Food and Drink Training, (NFDT), the training arm of Scottish Bakers, said: “Attracting talent is a massive issue across the United Kingdom.

“We need an education system that incorporates food and drink as a career choice into the psyche of school kids from an early age and this must be followed through at all stages of their education. Interventions by trade bodies and local business can help nurture new talent.

“But changing the teaching syllabus to incorporate aspects of food and drink manufacturing, along with work experience programmes to encourage youngsters to come and see the sector, could have a huge impact.

“The one thing we all need is food and it’s an exciting sector to get into with amazing career opportunities; we just need to get that message out there to bring the best and the brightest in.”

Full survey findings:

Workforce survey June 2021 – summary report

As we began to see us ease out of the harshest lockdown restrictions, we began to hear more and more about recruitment challenges facing our members. In order to quantify the scale of this issue we undertook a workforce survey of our members during June.

Highlights of this research are presented below:

Staffing levels

  • Nearly 50 per cent of respondents employed between 11 and 50 FT staff members; and
  • A further 22 per cent of respondents employed more than 100.

Workforce demographics

  • 54 per cent of the workforce is aged 45 years and over;
  • Of the above, 26 per cent is aged 55 years and over; and
  • 45 per cent of the workforce is aged between 20 and 44 years.

Main occupations

  • 28 per cent of the workforce is in process, plant or machine operations;
  • 38  per cent are sales and customer service (ie retail operations staff); and
  • 14 per cent are employed in skilled trades roles.

New employees

  • 77 per cent of respondents had recruited new staff over the last 12 months.
  • The most commonly recruited areas were:
    • Process, plant and machine operator roles (40 per cent of respondents had recruited in this area);
    • Sales and customer service (30 per cent of respondents);
    • Warehousing/distribution (30 per cent); and
    • Skilled trades (20 per cent).

Hard-to-fill vacancies

  • 75 per cent of respondents had hard-to-fill vacancies.

Reasons for ‘hard-to-fill

Problems with quality of qpplicants

The primary reasons why employers believe applicants are quality are:

  • Lack of experience and poor motivation/attitude cited by 75 per cent of respondents;
  • Lack of skills cited by 50 per cent; and
  • Lack of qualifications was cited by only 12 per cent of respondents.

Notes for editors:

Scottish Bakers has been supporting and protecting the interests of Scotland’s bakery trade for 130 years.

Scottish Bakers’ core purpose is to promote and protect the interests of the trade; representing, advising and supporting all aspects of Scotland’s baking industry, to ensure it remains competitive and equipped for growth.

It does this by providing the widest possible range of benefits that help its members sustain and grow their businesses including: skills development, technical information and assistance, competitions, sector intelligence, legal advice, financial discounts, and social and business networking.

Scottish Bakers manages both The World Championship Scotch Pie Awards and The Scottish Baker of the Year Awards each year to recognise and celebrate excellence in the sector.

But most importantly, Scottish Bakers belongs to its members, it is there for their benefit and is proud of its motto, ‘for the good of all’.

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