Words by Janelle Ting
Find out how local bakeries adapt to the unprecedented pandemic and discover their secrets to success
In any superhero movie, there is always a villain who endeavours to destroy the world and a hero who saves the day. Parallel to the movie, the Covid-19 pandemic is a disruptive force that has thrown the real world into chaos. Coupled with digitisation, there is a pressing need to transform ordinary workers into superheroes, well-equipped with advanced technological weapons and skillsets to take on the challenges of tomorrow.
On the same note, in order for the baking and confectionery industry to survive the pandemic and transform in tandem with the changing F&B landscape in Singapore, local bakers need to upskill. Digital technology, adaptive skills in business management, as well as technical nutritional and dietary bakery skills are the top skill sets that are critical for industry transformation yet lacking in today’s baking workforce.
Undertaking this sacred mission of plugging the skill-gaps, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) and Creative Culinaire the School joined hands to pilot a new project, Baker 4.0. It comprises a series of training initiatives that seek to equip bakers and industry professionals with necessary skills to face a smart future.
As part of Baker 4.0, e2i conducted exclusive interviews with 14 outstanding business owners in the baking and confectionery industry to learn about their struggles; responses to the pandemic; how they learnt past lessons, as well as secrets to their success.
Mr Eric Ng, the owner of Swee Heng 1989 shared that despite the pandemic, the company continues its relentless effort in innovation and R&D as it is the key to their success. Competition in the F&B industry is steep and they need to stand out from other bakeries by offering a wide variety of unique and premium bakes.
This is seconded by Mr Jason Ng, a veteran baker and the owner of Baker’s Oven. He added that investment in the state-of-the-art machinery is critical too as it allows for large-scale production with high consistency and productivity. Baker’s Oven also actively expands its customer base from businesses to direct consumers.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Lee Chit Shung from Montreux Patisserie shared that the company puts retrenchment as the last resort and takes care of the employees’ livelihood to the best of their ability. Indeed, not all heroes wear capes, some simply open their doors when others need it most.
Each interviewee has their own unique experiences and learning points but the common takeaway is that if we do not adapt and upskill, we will be hostages to the changing times. On the contrary, if we embrace the challenges with an open mindset and proactively sharpen our skills, we can, and we will emerge stronger.
NTUC’s e2i will be consolidating the interview responses into three mini videos to showcase how various bakeries overcome the odds, go digital, as well as manage manpower and control their costs, service, and quality.
Baker 4.0 is a long and arduous journey but it is the only way forward. All the initiatives under Baker 4.0 would not be possible if not for the support of e2i, Creative Culinaire the School, and various industry partners.
If you would like to find out more about Baker 4.0, have a sneak peek into the baking and confectionery industry, or hear from industry veterans, please enjoy this video brought to you with the support of e2i.