BAA Tackles Skills Shortage by Going Into Schools

BAA Tackles Skills Shortage by Going Into Schools

The Baking Association of Australia (BAA) and its state committees are working with industry and relevant state government authorities to work and address the skills shortages we face.

In recent meetings with state and federal government departments it was agreed that to engage people in our industry as apprentices it is important to gain access to school students at the levels of year 10 and 11. The BAA and government have come up with Apprentice Showcase Days for baking.

The showcase day involves the department of education talking to schools and careers advisors in nominated regions to seek out students who may have an interest in food or baking. The BAA arranges for a bakery in the nominated region to host the day in their bakery. The bakery needs to have plenty of room for hands-on workshops. The BAA contacts bakery owners in the area to attend and work with the students in workshops and to find out a bit more about the student’s interest. Students who feel they wish to find out more about working in a bakery can engage with bakery owners and have a few days work experience even if it’s a few days over the weekend.

Recently the BAA NSW hosted their first Showcase Day. Moxons Bakery in Armidale hosted 36 students from the New England area. The Moxons Bakery has three school-based apprentices already at the bakery and they assisted at three of the five workshops. The workshops included learning how to do a three-strand plait with dough, decorating a cupcake, using an air brush, and working with pastry and pies. The fifth workshop was an information area where students could also talk to bakery owners along with education officials to find out about finishing their studies and starting an apprenticeship. Of the 36 students, 15 signed up for work experience. Bakery owners who attended the day varied from independent to Bakers Delight and Woolworths.

Not everyone wants to go to university. We have students who are skilled and can turn their hands to a trade, but for some time now getting access to schools has been difficult. The showcase day brings everyone together to make this happen. We did a pilot of this in December in the Toowoomba region with the help of Home-Style Bake. It proved very successful especially with careers advisors who did not know anything about the baking industry or even where they could go for assistance.

Showcase days will roll out across the country nationally with Toowoomba on 19 October at the Toowoomba Christian College. Dates are currently being confirmed for Gold Coast/Elizabeth, South Australia/Sunbury, Victoria and Newcastle/Wollongong in New South Wales. As soon as dates are confirmed, bakeries will be notified.

Andrew O’Hara, National President of the BAA, said he was very pleased to see the project up and running and thanked the state BAA committees for taking this on along with industry embracing this.

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