Bakers get support for equipment, skills training

Trade group, NTUC's e2i tie up to prepare baking professionals for the digital economy

Ms Connie Ng, 25, is training to take over her family's bakery, Bread Story, which has been around since 2000 - along with its ovens.

But replacing the two industrial ovens, which have opaque doors so workers cannot tell if the bread inside is burning, costs $20,000 each.

In comes Baker 4.0, a new initiative to prepare bakers for the digital economy, which promises funding support for new equipment and training, and help with product development.

Thanks to an 80 per cent grant from the initiative, Ms Ng has been able to buy more reliable ovens.

"The ovens have transparent doors and heat-resistant features, so we won't have to open them repeatedly to check our bread or burn ourselves as much," she said.

Baker 4.0, by the National Trades Union Congress' e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) and the Singapore Bakery and Confectionery Trade Association (SBCTA), was officially launched at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre yesterday.

It aims to identify skills that bakers may lack and develop training programmes for them.

An industrywide survey found baking professionals needed to improve their skills in digital technology and automation, ability to adapt to changing business needs, and technical skills in dietary knowledge and menu development.

ATTRACTING NEW BAKERS

With the bakery and confectionery industry coming together to better organise themselves with clear competencies, more aspiring bakers will be drawn to the profession when there are clearer career development pathways.

MR NG CHEE MENG, NTUC secretary-general and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, on Baker 4.0 launched yesterday.

 

The SBCTA has an estimated 300 bakeries with approximately 6,000 bakers.

As a precursor to upcoming training programmes, the inaugural Junior Baker Symposium was held in April by e2i and Creative Culinaire, a culinary school opened by chef Judy Koh, secretary-general of SBCTA.

Industry trends and technical expertise were shared with over 50 junior bakers.

"The baking profession is tough - you must have pride and passion in what you do," said Ms Koh. "There is a need to support and inspire junior bakers, so they too can feel the same pride in the profession.

"The industry lacks manpower - young people may not enjoy the long hours of traditional baking, so we hope that by making the baking processes shorter with technology, we can attract more young Singaporean workers to become bakers."

One of the training programmes currently in development is a series of modules developed by Creative Culinaire, and conducted by Ms Koh for professional bakers.

Eligible candidates may receive up to 70 per cent funding on the course fee and a pay rise after training to recognise their new skills.

"With the bakery and confectionery industry coming together to better organise themselves with clear competencies, more aspiring bakers will be drawn to the profession when there are clearer career development pathways," said Mr Ng Chee Meng, NTUC secretary-general and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, who opened Chillax Asia, a trade and consumer fair.