Series: Vocational Training in Europe
How to become a Baker in ... Ireland
By Elizabeth Quinn
Background Information on the Trade
In Ireland bakers are generally regarded as those who work at bread production while confectioners produce flour confectionery. The trades are, however quite interchangeable and the modern baker is also a confectioner and vice versa. This is important in modern bakery production where some large companies produce bread only, some confectionery only, while most bakeries produce a mix of each.
The modern baker therefore, must be a skilled craftsperson with the ability to work in a small high class bakery, where handcraft work is essential, or in a large plant bakery where technical knowledge is the order of the day. In either where an end product is produced, the baker gets satisfaction.
Educational and other requirements
Junior Certificate or equivalent is required. The usual age of entry is from 16-18 years. Bakers/Confectioners must be prepared to start work at 5am and in some companies night work is necessary. Regular attendance and punctuality is essential. Bakers need to be quick and methodical as they often work to tight deadlines.
A certain degree of manual dexterity is necessary, and for confectionery, a talent for design and colour is an advantage.
How to become a Baker/Confectioner
There are two ways for this, on-the job training or the National Bakery School or the College of Catering. The training is quite practical with great emphasis on a high degree of skill, particularly in confectionery. Apprentices are engaged in production from the onset of their careers and work alongside qualified bakers/confectioners.
The industry demands a high level of consistency/quality and skill. All bakery products are sold for human consumption, so people working in the industry must possess the highest level of personal hygiene and an ability to work in a clean and tidy manner. Skill and artistic ability are encouraged in confectionery decoration.
The bakery apprenticeship is four years long on a day release basis. The employer is obliged to facilitate a student who needs time off to attend college. On completion of the Course the student will be awarded a Bakery Certificate (National bakery School) or City and Guilds Bakery Certificate.
There is also a Diploma in Bakery production and Management. This is a three year Course and is designed for those who wish for supervisory positions or management positions.
There is also a one or two year evening course in confectionery decoration which are held in Dublin (the capital) each year.
Store and craft bakeries, which are generally fairly small, offer prospects for promotion, often to supervisor level. There are opportunities for teaching baking at Colleges of Further Education and possibilities for self-employment for those who have the necessary flair and commitment.