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TAFE Queensland apprentice baker rises to the top

Felicity Stone has won TAFE Queensland’s Bakery Apprentice of the Year Award for her outstanding efforts during her three-year apprenticeship with Coles Mt Pleasant in Mackay.

After returning from a holiday to Africa, the former scientist signed up to study the Certificate III in Bread Baking (FBP30417). Since then she's beaten ten other baking apprentices to take out the award, all vying for the prestigious title.

“I’ve worked at Coles Mount Pleasant for the past three years, originally as a skilled baker before taking on the apprenticeship just over two years ago,” explained Felicity.

“Now that I’m qualified, and things are returning to pre-COVID normality, I hope to travel the world to experience aspects of baking that other countries have to offer. “

Winning the Apprentice Baker of the Year Award, students are assessed on their attitude, ability and the quality of their assessments and baked products. According to her teacher, Felicity displayed all of these qualities in spades.

“While she was enthusiastic and hard-working, it was her understanding of producing savoury bread, sweet yeast products, specialty flour bread and basic artisan products that set her apart from our other outstanding students. On top of that, she has superior technical skills and a positive attitude that sets her apart,” said Richard Hibbert, Bakery Teacher & Workplace Training Officer, TAFE Queensland.

An example of her positive attitude was her commitment to learning her craft, which saw her fly from Mackay to attend intensive four-day baking workshops at TAFE Queensland’s South Bank campus.

Each day of her training blocks began at 4am, and she gained practical experience in the state of the art baking training facilities under the tutelage of world-class bakers who gave her the skills she needed to work in a commercial baking environment.

“Her attitude was obvious from the beginning – which reinforced our high opinion of her,” continued Mr Hibbert.

“Her range of skills was impressive and was baked into every loaf she produced.”

During his visits to the bakery at Coles Mt Pleasant, Mr Hibbert saw first hand how she was implementing her TAFE Queensland training into her role, and he wouldn’t be surprised if she could one day run a whole bakery production.

TAFE Queensland prides itself on its state-wide industry partnerships with independent bakers’ and major baking chains like Coles. These connections are vital in ensuring students achieve their career goals.

Partnerships like these offer students access to unique, work-integrated learning, which leads to successful job outcomes, something Felicity has already achieved working in the bakery.

Director of Faculty of Tourism, Hospitality and Personal Services, Pat Dennis, said it’s incredible to think students like Felicity, who are only just starting in the industry will help its recovery from the pandemic.

“Everyone was amazed by the range of talent entering the industry – it’s very exciting, particularly when hospitality has been so impacted during COVID,” said Mr Dennis.

“As we recover from the pandemic, and consumers return and drive demand in the hospitality industry, TAFE Queensland must provide its apprentices with the skills they need to be employable now and well into the future.”

“Felicity is a very worthy recipient of TAFE Queensland’s Bakery Apprentice of the Year Award, and it’s great that she’s using her skills to work with an employer who supports her,” continued Mr Dennis.

“We have every confidence that if she wanted to, she could easily start her own successful business. With this industry-recognised award win, combined with her skills and attitude, we know that Felicity has a very bright future ahead of her.”

Coles National Apprentice Lead, Bakery, John McGrath, also believes that Felicity’s skills and abilities will see her soon become a fully qualified baker and an exceptional member of the Mt Pleasant bakery team.

“Coles is incredibly proud of Felicity’s achievement being named Bakery Apprentice of the Year, out of more than 230 students. Felicity has always shown dedication to her work, and we are proud to have been able to provide a pathway for her to learn and grow her passion and career.”

“Felicity started off as a team member, then progressed on to the internal Coles Skilled Baker program, before flourishing in her apprenticeship. The support of the bakery team and store manager at Coles Mount Pleasant has been outstanding during Felicity’s studies, and we look forward to her continued growth as a fully qualified baker at Coles.”

“At Coles, we are currently supporting 183 bakers through their apprenticeships, all around the country,” concluded Mr McGrath.