Digitisation and smart technology are shaping the way we work in the fourth industrial age, or what is known as Industry 4.0.
For the baking industry at least, a new project seeks to equip bakers and industry professionals with skills to face a smart future.
NTUC’s Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, launched Baker 4.0 at the Chillax Asia 2019 food, bakery and beverages exposition today. A project between NTUC, the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and the Singapore Bakery and Confectionery Trade Association (SBCTA), Baker 4.0 comprises a series of initiatives that will help bakers upskill and the baking and confectionery industry be transformed.
Identifying skills gaps in the baking and confectionery industry
F&B technology solutions provider Novitee and digital marketing agency Addpetizer conducted an inaugural survey involving around 120 respondents to identify skill gaps in future-proofing bakers for Industry 4.0. The results showed that skills relating to digital technology, business management, as well as nutritional and dietary baking were potential areas of development.
Minister Ng elaborated in his speech that “both management and baking professionals wanted the same top three adaptive skills—customer service experience, inventory management, and cost and quality management. Management also wanted operations management skills while bakers felt that they required more training in recipe costing. For technology skills, both felt that they needed to focus on digital technologies and automation. For technical skills, nutritional knowledge was the top choice”. He added that with the survey findings, e2i and SBCTA would zoom in on these areas to curate relevant training courses.
Nurturing the next generation of bakers
An inaugural junior baker symposium organised by e2i and Creative Culinaire was held in April 2019, in a day of demo sessions conducted by chef Judy Koh, founder and principal of Creative Culinaire and secretary-general of the SBCTA; chef Peter Yuen, an international bakery consultant; and chef Steven Ong from Fonterra Regional.
During his speech, Minister Ng said he was heartened to note that young bakers such as Jessie and Connie Ng from Bread Story, a local bakery in Telok Blangah, had benefited from the symposium. He hoped that this and other stories about the joy of learning would inspire emerging and professional bakers alike to embrace lifelong learning.
In the upcoming months, plans are afoot to provide more training to young bakers, in schemes such as a series of modules developed by Creative Culinaire with a focus on bakery management, bread, cake and pastry skills. Eligible candidates can potentially receive up to 70 per cent funding on the course fee with a salary adjustment after training to signify that bosses recognise the additional skill sets acquired through training.
MOU between SBCTA, e2i and Workforce Singapore (WSG)
SBCTA, e2i and WSG also signed an MOU today to formalise their tripartite cooperation to support the manpower needs of the baking sector. Says, Gilbert Tan, CEO of e2i, “With training, bakers can be equipped with the necessary skill sets to maximise the efficiency of their work, innovate to come up with new, delicious products to excite their customers, and increase the overall competitiveness of the business. E2i is looking forward to our continued partnership with SBCTA to roll out more training initiatives for our local bakers and bakeries.”