Sue Brocherie is proof that age is no barrier to moving up the bakery career ladder. In her late 40s, deciding to undertake an apprenticeship was “scary, but a no-brainer.”
Sue has worked at Rangiora Bakery for the past 14 years, starting out making muffins before working her way up to now being the production supervisor of the cake, slice, bread and meat pie areas.
“As the bakery has evolved, so has my role,” says Sue. “When the opportunity to do an apprenticeship came up it seemed like it was the logical next step – scary though as I hadn’t done any study for 30 years. But I thought I was baking for a living, so why not become qualified?”
Sue completed her three year Cake strand qualification in 2021, and is now half way through her 18-month Pastry strand qualification. She’s a big fan of the ‘earn and learn’ model that comes with being an apprentice.
“Earning while you learn for mature students is definitely the way to go. You can’t beat on the job training. A lot of people ‘learn by doing’ and this is the perfect way to do that. At first I was daunted at the prospect of papers to complete, but once I started, it didn’t seem too bad after all. You are provided with a lot of learning and reference material. I had people I could ask for help or advice, and the block course tutors were always available if needed. And unlike the olden days – we now have Google!”
Sue has always loved baking – a craft she inherited from her mother. She remembers fondly as a child mixing up bowls of flour, sugar, water and sultanas in her playhouse and her mother baking creations in the kitchen.
“Baking has always been more than just a chore – I love doing it. At home, 99% of my baking is given away – it’s my happy place. It’s also something I am good at and since doing my apprenticeship, I’m challenging myself with things I would never have tried making previously.”
Competenz account managers have played a key role in Sue’s learning journey, with regular visits throughout the year and “popping in” to see her while she’s been on a block course.
“At each visit you receive your progress report and to be ‘above the line’ always gives me a secret thrill!” she laughs. “The enthusiasm and encouragement from Competenz is above and beyond. Rangiora Bakery has also been incredibly supportive and the progress and success of their apprentices is always appreciated and celebrated. The wealth of knowledge of management and senior staff is soaked up by all of us,” says Sue.
Rangiora Bakery currently has four female and two male apprentices, and Sue urges all mature people who might be considering a new career to “just do it.”
Sue’s employer, Rangiora Bakery General Manager Frank Janssen, says the Government’s Apprenticeship Boost scheme has allowed the business to take on new talent by subsidising the training fees. The 2022 budget announced this scheme has now been extended until the end of December 2023. This additional support will assist employers in both upskilling staff and attracting new apprentices who can earn as they learn on the job.
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