Words by Judy Koh
We are living in extraordinary times, moving and transforming at an unprecedented speed. With the recent Covid-19 rearing its ugly head, businesses have had to grapple with extraordinary challenges. Needless to say, bakeries were not spared.
As early as April 2019, the team from e2i was already meeting up with many of us in the bakery industry to share the mission and vision of the Baker 4.0 initiative. In July 2019, e2i officially launched Baker 4.0 with the honoured presence of NTUC Secretary-General and Minister in Prime Minister’s Office, Ng Chee Meng, at the food bakery and beverage exposition, Chillax, organised by The Singapore Bakery Confectionery and Trade Association.
Baker 4.0 comprises key skills that will help bakers prepare for the digital age, and equip management and bakers of the industry with adaptive, technology and technical know-how. The new baker would need to have adaptive skills such as customer service experience, adapting to new operational practices and processes, and recipe costing. While the upgrading of baking skills are a constant need, being able to operate machines, equipment, and computer software is also a necessity for the modern bakery.
Since launching the initiative, the e2i team has worked with members of the bakery industry to conduct seminars and workshops with the aim to encourage those in the industry to not focus on just technical baking skills, but in tandem with adaptive and technological skills to battle with future challenges.
For example, Creative Culinaire The School, in collaboration with e2i, organized the Baker 4.0 Symposium for the industry in March 2020. Chefs Gunther Koerffer, vice president of UIBC International Union of Bakers and Confectioners from Europe, alongside chefs Richard Or and Judy Koh of Creative Culinaire The School shared tips on how to adapt traditional recipes to the modern bakery.
To survive and thrive, bakeries would have to be sensitive to customers’ changing needs and demands. Adjustments such as using lesser amounts of sugar and incorporating healthier ingredients are made to traditional recipes to satisfy consumers of today and keep them coming.
With the introduction of equipment, the baker is relieved of mundane and repetitive tasks meaning they were able to spend more time on developing soft skills such as problem-solving and innovating.
Learning how to use software and hardware in the bakery has also become increasingly necessary if we were not only to survive but thrive in the new digital world. A traditional bakery, for example, relying solely on the talent of individuals would be more productive and effective with the introduction of equipment.
Candidates currently onboard Place-and-Train programme with Creative Culinaire The School
Indeed, the Baker 4.0 initiative proved to be visionary. When the pandemic hit and restrictions were put in place, bakeries realised the need to swiftly adapt and transform for survival.
As more people stay home, offline marketing is no longer as effective as it used to be. Digital marketing and online sales have now become the key driving factors for revenue. With the surge in demand for delivery, issues such as the shelf life of baked goods required a relook to the processes and recipes. In turn, this has altered the way businesses intend to attract, train and retain Singaporean talent.
On this, the Place and Train program by e2i with education partners such as Creative Culinaire The School has been working hard to match and train Singaporeans looking for career opportunities in the bakery industry.
It is heartening to see more and more bakeries making the necessary changes to adapt and thrive in the industry. Keeping an open mind, the future of the bakery business continues to shine bright and together as it rises to new heights.