Liz Slowey had always wanted to be a baker but as an adult with learning disabilities she struggled to find opportunities for a job which could fully support her, until she discovered The Bread Maker. Over the past six years Liz has gone from a nervous beginner to the bakery’s Apprentice of the Year 2014.
Liz heard about the company’s opportunities for apprenticeships while she was studying at college in Aberdeen. She was successful in securing a place at the Rosemount-based firm where she was trained by staff to make over a dozen types of bread and prepare various pastries to supply cafes and restaurants across the city.
Liz said: “I already had experience baking and learned a lot at college, but at the Bread Maker the standards are very high. I was taken out of my comfort zone and taught to bake things I hadn’t even heard of. To begin with, I had to learn about the 14 different types of loaf that we could be baking at any one time. Before working here I couldn’t tell you what sourdough bread was, but now I can even make it.”
The 38 year-old from Stonehaven also received support from staff at the cafe to help her transition to working in the busy city centre by learning how to travel independently and socialise with fellow apprentices and colleagues at work. The Bread Maker arranges therapy groups and days out with the trainees to encourage them to get to know the city and be confident interacting in the community.
“I was very nervous when I first started, but the staff here helped me work on my customer service skills until I was ready to work in the cafe without any nerves,” said Liz.
Once they have gained some experience at The Bread Maker, apprentices are often encouraged to take part in work placements at other cafes in the city. In recent years, some apprentices have found full time paid work in hospitality businesses elsewhere in Aberdeen.
Liz currently has placements arranged at other patisseries in Aberdeen for days when she is not scheduled to work at the Bread Maker, but doesn’t think she’ll be heading away anytime soon.
She said: “I spent years thinking I might not ever get a job, even though all I wanted to do was work. I’m happy where I am but it’s great to know there are more opportunities out there.”