The fast-growing Jones Village Bakery in Wrexham is aiming to recruit 30 new apprentices over the next two years.
It’s part of a major expansion by the family firm who have just invested £16 million in a new, high-tech production line and announced plans to create a total of 100 extra jobs.
The state-of-the-art equipment has been installed at the company’s new 140,000 sq ft bakery on Wrexham Industrial Estate.
The headquarters complex is also home to their ground-breaking Baking Academy and Innovation Centre.
The company has a track record of growing their own and most of their bakery managers and supervisors have come through the ranks.
The practical training sessions are run by bakery specialist Paul Andrew who is a qualified assessor with Coleg Cambria with whom they have partnered to deliver the apprenticeships.
He said: “I enjoy teaching the apprentices, it’s my favourite bit. Some of the best people we have in our business have come through the apprenticeship scheme, all the way through to being bakery managers.
“We’re not just employing people. We’re investing in these guys to make them a better version of themselves so they can deliver the quality we need.
“The Village People are our secret ingredient because most of the managers most of the supervisors have trodden this path.”
Among the current crop of apprentices is Tilly Squire, aged 16, who says she’s loving every minute at the Jones Village Bakery.
She said: “I went to college for a little bit and I just found that it wasn’t really for me. I wanted to go out and earn my own money and the Village Bakery was looking for people so it just worked out well.
“I went straight onto the adult wage so I get the same as everybody else because I do the same work. I don’t get paid less because I’m younger.
“One of the things I like about working here is that I’m treated with respect. When I left school, I applied for loads of jobs. I got turned down a lot because of my age.
“But they don’t see me any differently here just because I’m a lot younger. There’s no age discrimination here – all they see is potential, which is nice.
“Now I’m enrolled on the apprenticeship scheme which I’m really excited about. It’s going well.
“I’m really chuffed because I’m the youngest that’s ever done it as well so I’m making a little bit of Village Bakery history at the same time.
“In five years’, time I’d like to have worked my way up or made it to a higher position so I’ll just work as hard as I can.
“At the Village Bakery there is a career path for you to progress, and I do enjoy working here.”
Fellow apprentice Callum Whitfield, 25, says he’s also relishing the opportunity.
He said: “It’s an exciting place to work with everything going on here, the new products that we’re launching. We’re making some great stuff at the moment, we really are.
“On the apprenticeship scheme, we learn about practical baking in the test kitchen, getting real hands-on experience of craft baking and learning about the theory behind making bread and the different products.
“A lot of the managers and the supervisors at the Village Bakery are homegrown, that’s s what they like to do so there is a great career path here.
“I love the products as well. They’re fantastic and I buy Village Bakery bread on my days off. It says it all really. So, I’ve bought into it literally.
“I’m proud to be one of the Village People. It’s a great community of people who are working here, and you make friends for life, you really do.”
Group HR manager Jason Page said: “The current cohort of apprentices are studying for a Level 2 bakery qualification which is the first stepping stone on their path. Hopefully they’ll move on from that to do a Level 3 and then the sky’s the limit.
“The Jones Village Bakery is an extremely successful business and we are growing at a rate of knots. We’re growing sustainably and through quality products and through a great relationship with our customers.
“The apprenticeship scheme is what the Village Bakery is all about, bringing talent in, growing them and then having them ready to be the next generation of bakery managers and supervisors supporting the growth of this business.
“We are now looking for our next crop of apprentices because that is the best way for us to succeed and grow as a business. They are the future of the Jones Village Bakery.”
Managing director Robin Jones added: “We’re not necessarily looking for people with fantastic qualifications. We just want people who are driven, who want to learn and who are passionate about baking.
“In return, we have fantastic training facilities and we can provide a chance of a great career.”