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Half baked

Len Tingle | 18:43 UK time, Friday, 25 June 2010

Barnsley baker John Foster has strong views on the Government's plans for getting his town back to work.

To call them half baked would be an understatement according to him.

Three of his 250-strong workforce have been recruited from the long term unemployed and are now valuable members of his team.

But he would not have been able to take them on without the contribution of a publically-funded training scheme preparing them to re-enter the world of work.

In his view anybody who has spent months on the dole needs help to get them in the right frame of mind to come into work every day.

He is not impressed by plans to scrap the existing training schemes as part of the spending squeeze.

"Someone who has been out of work for a long time would not be at the front of the queue," he told me when I visited the bakery this week.

And one look at at the busy baking floor shows why.

Its an amazing place with muffins, teacakes, loaves and mouth watering cream-filled pastries coming off the gleaming production line.

They will end up on the shelves of supermarkets, corner shops and classy cafes and coffee shops across the country.

There is a fair bit of expensive mechanisation here but the skill of the workforce adds the personal touch.

To work here requires a key ingredient according to John

That's confidence.

"The training scheme gives them the confidence to take a job here," he says.

I put it to him that the Coalition Government is adopting an entirely different approach.

It is giving financial incentives to allow people like John to expand their businesses and add real productive jobs rather than subsidised additions to the workforce.

That doesn't cut much ice with John.

For him the thought that he can also give something back by reducing the long term dole queue in his home town is equally important.

For this baker doing that would be the icing on the cake.


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