From filled baguettes to stunning birthday cakes, sharing platters to decorative donut boxes, Wenzel’s Bakery has 90 stores across Greater London, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, and Surrey, and has been baking since 1975.
Ross Robins who runs the business is like many business leaders, acutely aware of the challenges of recruiting and retaining staff in a competitive jobs market. But uniquely they have created a bespoke training package via the apprenticeship scheme to upskill their senior management team.
Ross explains: “We’re currently running a Level 3 Team Leader and Supervisor course and this is for the management in our shops and bakery. It’s the first apprenticeship scheme we have run for about 10 years and we’re already looking at massively pushing apprenticeship schemes out across our company. As well as upskilling everyone taking part, it is helping to give them clear career progression within the business.”
The business employs 1,000 people in their shops and 100 in their bakery and around a year ago, Ross started to consider how they could make themselves a more attractive workplace.
Ross explains: “We looked internally and thought what can we do better for our current team, to give them the pathways and opportunities for progression. We looked at what we could do to give them the qualifications to fit the roles internally, rather than to recruit externally to fill them. We decided we wanted to invest in the staff we have and to open the management training across our team leaders and supervisor level and it’s gone splendidly well so far. For us it’s been the initial foot through the door and we’re going to start recruiting apprentices who join across all departments of the company and then work their way up.”
Wenzel’s currently has 20 employees taking the apprenticeship courses, but Ross estimates they will have around 100 people in apprenticeship training over the next 12 months. “We’re aiming for different levels of training for the different levels of management in our company. This will include tailor-made, skills based training for those in our bakery. That’s our ambition and what we’re aiming for in the next 12 months.”
Ross’ advice to other business owners is to take another look at the apprenticeship levy pot and what training might be available for their business. “It’s there to be used. Once the initial admin side is out of the way it’s only positive. We are working with a great company, iSales, and they have made it a dream for us. So far it has all been positive for us and the feedback is positive from our staff. I see them as they are training and it’s a nice feeling for us knowing that we’re giving back to our staff and preparing them for their future and for our future as a business. If you invest in and train your staff, you are helping to mould them and build a better business in the future.”