Industry training organisation Competenz has introduced a new apprentice matching service, making it even easier for bakeries looking to engage new talent to grow their business, while giving apprentices a start to a career that is in global demand.
Launched in 2018, the matching service is free for employers looking to take on an apprentice or learner in any one of the 37 industries the training organisation works with, including baking.
For already very busy bakery managers and owners, the service provides welcome assistance in the sourcing of entry-level staff and apprentices, as Competenz Recruitment Executive Brenda James explains.
“We encourage all employers to list training opportunities within their businesses on our Jobs Board (gotatrade.competenz.org.nz). It’s a well-used portal for those who are looking for training opportunities and we currently have well over 100 registrations of interest from potential apprentices. My role is to match those people with available learning opportunities,” she says.
How Brenda matches future apprentices with employers calls on the experience and skills she has amassed during her 20 years in the recruitment industry. She knows the questions to ask; questions that are important to employers.
“We dig deep!” says Brenda. “Not only do we assess CVs, we also conduct personal interviews with everyone who expresses interest in training to find the most suitable person for a particular company. One who we feel will thrive in that business and will contribute to its success.
“It’s important that the person fits the culture of the business and the company provides the kind of environment they are looking to work and learn in.”
Brenda also spends time assessing what the employer is looking for. “Normally an employer will put a job or learning opening on our Job Board so we’re aware they’re looking. I’ll ask them comprehensive questions about what the type of person they’re looking for, and what they offer in terms of environment and team culture.
“By us screening both employer and potential apprentice, we can find the right fit. It takes the hassle out of employers having to do the vetting work, which saves a considerable amount of time.”
Brenda also assesses candidates’ level of knowledge of the industry and also whether they understand what is required in terms of time and study in an apprenticeship programme and whether they’re able to make that commitment.
“We drill down to check their attitude and work ethic. It’s a robust process that employers find incredibly valuable.”
Each year for the past 14 years, Kevin Gilbert, owner of Gilbert’s Fine Foods in Dunedin has trained a Competenz apprentice in his bakehouse. He says the career opportunities for a qualified baker are massive both locally and internationally.
“Once you’re qualified, you can go anywhere and work in restaurants, bakeries, hotels and cafés. The skills a baker learns are directly transferable into many aspects of hospitality including being part of a kitchen team specialising in baking. Being a qualified baker is the key to opening the door in any food premises globally and demand for craft baking skills is very high.”
Kevin says the Competenz baking apprenticeship programme is very well supported. People get to choose how and where they learn and are helped throughout their study and the system by people “who know what they’re talking about”.
As well as the Jobs Board, Competenz sources suitable apprentices through its comprehensive marketing programmes on social media, in schools and tertiary institutions. The ITO has developed relationships with career advisors, leading to engaging with young people who have expressed an interest in the industry.
“If we know a company is looking for an apprentice, we will help them to find the right one. We encourage any bakery company who uses the Competenz apprenticeship programme to take advantage of our free matching service.”
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Opal is a manufacturer of corrugated fibre packaging for a wide range of customers in the food, wine, industrial and beverage industries. Bruce Coombe is Opal’s Technical Supervisor and has been with the company for the past 32 years, and a workplace apprentices assessor for Competenz for 20 years.