A new report into labour market and training issues associated with bakers and pastry cooks has provided the baking industry with up-to-date data, findings and recommendations based on extensive research and an exhaustive round of consultations in each state.
At a 1 July meeting organised by AgriFood Skills Australia (AgriFood), the project steering committee accepted the report with committee members’ viewing it as providing a solid basis to improve the attraction, retention and skilling of industry workers.
The Baking Industry Project, instigated by AgriFood and supported by all state baking associations, was conducted by Tom Dumbrell and Associates. A copy of the report is available on the AgriFood website at www.agrifoodskills.net.au/current-projects/baking/.
The report provides insight into the current state of baking apprenticeships, with some key findings being:
• apprenticeship commencements in baking and pastry cooking peaked in 2002 and by 2010 were only at about 57 per cent of the level in 2002;
• rates of attrition among apprentices in the baking and pastry cooking trades are among the highest of any trades;
• if apprenticeship attrition rates had been around the total apprenticeship rate of 50 per cent there would have been an additional 1500 bakers and pastry cooks available to the Australian labour market over the past 10 years; and
• the level of apprenticeship commencements in recent years indicates that there is unlikely to be any significant improvement in the availability of qualified bakers and pastry cooks from domestic sources over the next three-to-four years.
The final report included 16 recommendations that could be grouped into a number of themes. These include those relating to many aspects of apprenticeships, the content and validity of courses, the importance of adopting a national, consistent approach to promotion of industry issues, the role of immigration/guest workers in filling the job void and strategies to become an employer of choice.
The specific recommendations include:
• introduction of a national standard three-year apprenticeship in baking and pastry cooking;
• increasing the flexibility (choice) of the Certificate III in Retail Baking (Combined), and ensuring the Certificate II is suitable for the needs of supermarkets and franchises;
• adopting a national approach to a variety of industry issues and opportunities, including the use of school-based apprenticeships, engagement with school career advisers, recognition of skills held (RPL), promotion of apprenticeships, assisting businesses owners to become employers of choice, and use of 457 visas; and
• through the various state and national industry bodies, confirm that many of the objectives included in the report would be more readily met by having one, unified national body.
To ensure the project report is not left to gather dust on a shelf, AgriFood with the support of the industry hosted a one-day industry forum to determine where to from here. The forum was held on 29 July, 2011, with an industry member from each state and several state industry skills councils in attendance.
A report on the outcome of the forum will be provided in the next issue of Australian Baking Business.