What do I have to do to get a bloody baking job?

Blow up a profiterole?


Honestly. Every time someone says there's a shortage of bakers out there or they start whinging about apprentices I want to scream.

I'm wondering aloud here: what do I  have to do to get a start in a bakery?

I'm in my thirties. Hardly decrepit and certainly nowhere near an old age pension. I have experience in both a plant and shop bakery as part of my studies (placements) and I did well. I have completed 80% of my education - Cert III Baking (Combined) - and am seriously considering a further qualification in patisserie to fine tune what I've covered in the first certificate. I made good grades in my exams. I turned up to class every day on time and ready to go. I have an excellent command of the English language as well as two others. I'm not fat or lazy, well presented and I keep healthy by maintaining my fitness and eating well.

Oh yeah, and you'd think it wouldn't matter, but I'm a woman. And, surprisingly, I'm finding that it does matter.

I can't tell you how many jobs I've applied for (apprenticeships and baker's assistant roles) because it's embarrassing.  And it's demoralising.  And when I read threads about not being able to get apprentices or baker shortages, it's insulting.

I have employers infer that they want someone young, male and low on the pay scale. (To check the gender theory, I put my first initial instead of my first name and got twice the responses).  Bugger the fact that I have life and other career experience and have bothered to pay for my own education. Or that I can show the boys a thing or two in class about lifting a sack properly or recognising the difference between flour and sugar (yes, really).  They look at my CV and tell me I'd be bored or that I'm over qualified (????wtf?), that I wouldn't fit in with the boys, excuses, excuses and a few unlawful shortcuts.  I don't expect a pay packet equal to a qualified baker but I do expect to be treated fairly.  And another thing.  You can't trial someone for free. It's unlawful in this country and rightly so. And you can't expect someone to probation for six months either. Since they got rid of Johnny Howard's draconian workplace legislation, that's unlawful too.  So yes, you do pay penalty rates and you do follow the award.  But you'd rather hire someone without a scrap of English who can whip up a beautiful baguette but doesn't have an appreciation of the Australian marketplace or industry when you can employ me who can and does?


My classmate, another woman, ended up supervising an overseas baker on her placement because he didn't know how to use the metric system, measured everything by volume and actually had the gall to insist that the imperial system was superior. And she was still passed over for an apprenticeship.  Three months later the idiot leaves and the employer whinges about "not being able to get staff.." !!!!

Sorry. I'm rambling. And I know I may sound bitter. Maybe I am. But I'm fed up. Australia is awash with vibrant, willing citizens who are very capable of holding their own but are getting cast aside because they aren't young enough, willing to be paid a pittance, work in sh*tful conditions nor led by the nose.   Oh and yes, some of us can actually bake.

Of my bakery class, 70% have quit the industry. Of the few of us left, some have opted to open their own place, work overseas or keep going in the hope that the tide will turn and someone will say yes.

Maybe they'll employ me in Europe. Because as soon as I can raise the fare that's exactly where I'm going.



Austalia is definitely a 2 or 3 speed economy.

In the ACT and surrounding areas we can't find any apprentices, chefs or bakers. I get a call at least once a week asking if I can help find someone for a kitchen or bakery position.


If you are having problems getting a start move to Canberra, drop me a line and I will point you the right direction. 


If you know anyone who wants to work as a head baker in rural ACT.... I'm looking to for one !


Cheers Bruce



Your story doesn't fill me with much hope. I'm also in my mid thirties and am having an early midlife crisis, wanting to get into baking after too many years sitting at a computer. I thought I'd try some work experience before I committed to doing any serious education but that's hard enough to come by. My local baker is having his own problems getting decent staff and can't deal with a work experience nuffy being in the way at the moment.

I feel like I should do an apprenticeship. It seems like the "right thing to do". But why bother if you end up where you are? Why not skip all the hassle and open your own place?

Do you live near Footscray? Wanna open a bakery?


Sincere thanks to both of you and to those who have contacted me privately for responding. In a lucid moment of hindsight last night I thought I may have offended with my frankness but am relieved to see that some of my frustration appears to be shared.


I've even got the sh*ts with some of my teachers at TAFE right now as they're very jaded when it comes to assisting with placements let alone giving sound employment advice.  But then again if some of the young apprentices we share classes with are anything to go by, they're probably fed up too.  And that doesn't mean I'm tarring today's youth with the same brush either. I work alongside some terrific youngsters but, oh boy, there are some shockers in amongst them. But all of them have jobs and manage to keep them so.....*lol*


Andrew, that's very early to be having a midlife crisis. Can we just call it "presently dissatisfied with life"? :)  The reason I don't want to open up a bakery is that, realistically, I just don't have the experience nor do I have the outlay required. We have bakeries that have been set up by students in our local area...and you can tell.  I believe there's a lot to be gained by experience and I just don't have enough of it yet (and have been trying to get it).  Technically, I don't have to get an apprenticeship. I can work for two years as an assistant/pastry cook and then apply for trade recognition. Alternatively, I can get an employer who is willing to apprentice me for 2 years instead of 4. Either way, I am determined to get what I want..even if it takes another year. Which it won't. Because I'm off to Europe to work.


Bruce, as I am headed overseas, I am happy to pass on your details to fellow students who are also languishing, fed up and misdirected. I'm aware that some are prepared to travel.  But as for me, I've had my vent and I've made people aware.  Hopefully, this thread will alert some lurking employers and perhaps change/alter their viewpoint with regards to employing mature people in their workforce and/or adult apprentices/assistants.




Hi, I read your blog post with interest and empathy. Whilst I am not working in bread making, I do sympathise with the challenges of setting up on your own or establishing yourself in a new industry as a 'mature' worker. It is galling to hear about your struggles, when we readers can see the successes you have had (paying for your own education for example), and your clear motivation.


Being in your thirties is a positive. You have life experience. You are clear about why you want to be a baker and passionate about the subject.


For what its worth, hang on in there - your motivation has brought you this far already, its only a matter of time before someone realises what they are missing.


I started my own company this year - its a website that helps anyone learn anything they want, and also enables passionate knowledgeable people to get paid for sharing their skills online with others. Members meet in a virtual classroom called a 'skilio session', where multiple webcams can stream simultaneously; We are currently looking for bread makers, and in particular people who know about sour dough. Would you be interested in finding out more? It could be a way for you to share your passion for bread making with hundreds of others, whilst also earning money and gaining peer to peer recognition.


email me at rebecca.garnett at skilio.com if you are interested :)