Bakers Required – An Industry View

Contributor: Martin Barnett – Program Chair and Baking Instructor Vancouver Island University

It has been in the news recently about the TFW program and the lack of young Canadians trained to work in the food industry. As a trainer in Baking and Pastry, I have had many conversations with bakery owners looking to fill qualified positions.
A few have taken advantage of the advanced skills of European tradespeople and we have welcomed their talents to our shores.
The Canadian Baking industry has changed over the last few decades, a shift from small and medium ‘scratch’ bakeries, where everything was made on site by traditionally trained Red Seal journeyman and apprentice bakers, to volume instore and mega industrial bakeries, that use pre-made convenience products.
We embraced the convenience 30 years ago, as a lot of bakers were looking for ways to reduce hours, and make the the job a little more sociable.
(We can explore this debate anther time)
There has been a shift in consumer demand over the last few years. A more discerning public is looking for fresher, less generic and wholesome bread and pastries.
In order to provide this service, we need workers skilled in the traditional methods used to to produce these staples and delicacies.
On the one hand we now have sophisticated machinery, ovens and refrigeration that can make the bakers job so much easier. On the other hand we need to train our staff, either in-house or in partnership with our Trades Colleges. In response to these training needs, the government have identified trades as an area to support.
Having more well qualified Red Seal bakers in the system, will be self perpetuating after the short term. The Baking Association, BC chapter, and the Industry Training Authority are embarking on a mentorship program for apprentices and trainees. If you have skills that you wish to share or apprentices that wish to take part, please support these initiatives.
More information can be obtained by contacting the chapter chair, Gary Humphreys, garyhumphreys.11@gmail.com