Bakers plan to increase quality and attractiveness of training

The bakery trade is taking a critical look at training. A survey among trainees reveals that careers guidance needs improving and aspiring skilled workers need to be treated with greater respect.

For more than a decade, the Central Association of the German Bakery Trade has been advertising for new recruits with its campaign "Back dir deine Zukunft" ("Bake your own future"). "We have been able to increase the visibility of our training occupations for lots of young people," sums up Nils Vogt, head of the division for vocational education and training (VET) and ensuring provision of skilled workers at the Central Association. Despite committed work in this area over many years, however, too many training positions remain unfilled.

Training summit in Weinheim

Before the start of the 2022/2023 training year, the Central Association wanted to send out a clear message. It invited all stakeholders involved in training to a training summit. Participants coming together for the summit included trainers, trainees, baking influencers active on social media, teachers at vocational schools and working in inter-company training instruction as well as guild representatives at the National German Bakers Academy in Weinheim. "We trialled this new format in order to work out together where we are with the training and where we want to take it."

Survey via record book app

The fact that all was not well with training in the bakery trade probably came as no surprise to many. The Central Association got a true picture of what was happening ahead of the training summit. "We wanted to talk to, instead of about, the target group," explains Nils Vogt. The bakers used a new communication channel to achieve this. Trainees using the Central Association's record book app were asked via the app to take part in a survey. Nils Vogt describes the response as "really good". More than 500 trainees responded to the Central Association's request. The findings are "a real asset" he explains.

Thinking about giving up

In the survey trainees were asked what other benefits and offers they received in addition to the training remuneration. Responses to the tenth question further convinced Nils Vogt that the quality and attractiveness of training needed improving. "More than 60 percent of trainees surveyed said they had considered giving up early on in their training."

The reasons listed for this were mainly a lack of appreciation but also too much work and conflict. "Generation Z is entering the world of work with different expectations. This demands a rethink on the part of training companies."

Signs of appreciation

Question 8 asked the trainees to state what other benefits and offers they received in addition to training remuneration. Appreciation can be expressed by training remuneration above the collectively agreed level, added Nils. However, other possibilities might also include subsidizing the driving licence for aspiring bakers and specialist salespersons, making an e-bike available, facilitating a placement abroad or organising a trainee event.

"Lots of businesses are already setting a great example and leading the way in this. At the training summit we gave them a platform so that others could be inspired," explains Vogt.

No realistic idea of the occupation

The training experts were "not particularly surprised" by the fact that, before starting their training, around half of the trainees surveyed had no realistic idea of what to expect over the coming three years.

Pupils should give it a try

Nils Vogt explains that careers guidance in schools needs to be significantly improved. There needs to be greater scope for, and a requirement for, placements. Pupils shouldn't opt for the "easy solution on the doorstep" when searching for a placement position, instead they should go for "what gets them going and makes them curious". He added that the structures involved in careers guidance also need to be dismantled and reshaped in all types of schools.

Self-employment as a taught subject

Besides being more open to placements in the skilled trades, Vogt wants to see a master baker being invited into the classroom. "When we talk about starting a business and self-employment in Germany, we're often only referring to start-ups. However, in the bakery trade there are well-established businesses looking for someone to take them on, or market niches which you can fill as a young master craftsman or master craftswoman."

Supporting vocational education and training

Nils Vogt sees the patronage of the training summit by Federal Minister of Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) as sending a "strong signal". However, he explains, well-intentioned words about the equivalence of vocational and academic education and training must be followed by actions. "Vocational schools and inter-company education and training centres need better equipment." Financial support would also help micro businesses in particular to once again provide more training.

Baking influencers on social media

Nils Vogt believes that, with their recruitment campaign "Back dir deine Zukunft", bakers already have a presence where the target audience spends the bulk of its time: on social media.

He anticipates that baking influencers in particular will provide improved visibility for the bakery trade and will influence careers guidance. Using short video clips, they provide their followers on Instagram or TikTok with authentic insights into everyday working life and in doing so, "give the bakery trade a face and a voice". 

Authentic insights

The Central Association works with them to develop ideas and themes for their posts. "Otherwise, they have complete freedom in terms of content," emphasizes Nils Vogt. For him, authentic insights also means the baking influencers can be critical or express concern. "For example, we don't want to sugar coat the fact that occasionally bakers have to do hard physical work. However it is also an attractive occupation with great prospects for the future, there’s a strong sense of purpose, and sustainability and regionality also play a key role."

Developing potential solutions

With the training summit over, the focus for Nils Vogt is now implementation. The findings from the nine workshops and the trainee talk need to be evaluated and potential approaches resulting from this for improving training need to be taken to the sector as a whole.

This might be in the form of checklists, guidelines or podcasts, adds Nils. "We do not see this process as a closed shop, limited to participants at the training summit only. We want to involve all bakery trade stakeholders engaged in training," he assures. 

Fast implementation envisaged

For Nils Vogt, the lively exchange and the euphoric atmosphere were the main elements he took away from the two-day training summit. He feels the onus is now on him and on the Central Association of the German Bakery Trade. "We now have to keep at it and quickly ensure that the stimulus provided by this event was not just a one-off, but that substantial benefits stem from this for training in the bakery trade."

Source:, revised by iMOVE, December 2022