High-tech Welch bakery searching for next generation of bakers
The high-tech production line has been installed at the company’s new 140,000 sq ft headquarters on Wrexham Industrial Estate. The bakery was destroyed by fire in 2019, but has been replaced with a state-of-the-art facility that is four times the size of the old one. The 120m-long production line was imported from Italy and Holland, and has a capacity of 36,000 bread rolls an hour.
The headquarters is also home to its Baking Academy and Innovation Centre. With a track record – since opening in Coedpeth, North Wales, in 1964 – of ‘growing their own’, most of the bakery’s managers and supervisors have come through the ranks.
“Some of the best people we have in our business have come through the apprenticeship scheme, all the way through to being bakery managers,” said Paul Andrew, a qualified assessor with Coleg Cambria who runs the Academy’s training sessions.
“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, 16.
“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, but got turned down a lot because of my age,” said Squire.
“[At the Village Bakery], I went straight onto the adult wage so I get the same as everybody else because I do the same work.
“There’s no age discrimination here – all they see is potential. Now I’m enrolled on the apprenticeship scheme, which I’m really excited about. In five years’ time, I’d like to have worked my way up or made it to a higher position.”
Fellow apprentice Callum Whitfield, 25, added, “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.
“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.”
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Group HR manager Jason Page said the bakery is growing at a rate of knots.
“The apprenticeship scheme is 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,” said Page.
"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.”
MD 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.”