Words by Grace Tan
The COVID-19 pandemic has sent many businesses into a tailspin – some have been forced to shut, others had to scramble to take their business online, and many have suffered an irreversible loss of income in the near-term. Businesses, both large and small, have had to adapt to the changes quickly. And someone who is no stranger to change is Mark Ng, the founder of local cake shop Pure Pandan, who quit his civil service job to perfect the art of making chiffon cakes.
Unlike other bakers who had the opportunity to take over the family business, Mark had no such experience and therefore had to learn the ropes by going for classes. He is a former professional bakery student of culinary baking school, Creative Culinaire The School. This adaptability and willingness to learn new skills is precisely what the National Trades Union Congress’s (NTUC) e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) wants to encourage – people who are willing to upskill and transform themselves in tandem with the evolving F&B landscape in Singapore. Such individuals will be part of what is now termed ‘Baker 4.0’.
Baker 4.0 Training is available to those who wish to learn or hone their ATT (Adaptive, Technology, Technical) skills. Firstly, ‘Adaptive Skills’ surround the Customer Service Experience, Inventory Management, Cost and Quality Management, Operations Management and Recipe Costing. These are highly beneficial for those who are serious about their profession in the baking and confectionary industry, and also for those who wish to take on roles in management.
Secondly, ‘Technology Skills’ are crucial for businesses as they try to reinvent themselves during this COVID-19 period. Some companies which usually focused on only B2B now have to reach out to consumers online in order for their business to remain sustainable and for them to retain their current number of employees. Small businesses like Pure Pandan, which usually rely on walk-in customers, loyal fans, and tourists who visit the Chinatown area, have had to reach out to existing, as well as new, customers online. Pure Pandan currently takes orders for delivery via phonecalls and WhatsApp, and payment must be done separately via PayLah or PayNow. In providing a seamless shopping experience for consumers, businesses can also work towards alerting customers of the delivery timeslots and following up with the customers thereafter to gather their feedback.
Thirdly, ‘Technical Skills’ involving nutritional knowledge, food safety and hygiene, menu development, among other things, will be a boon to many companies. I have found that while Pure Pandan’s emphasis is on the humble chiffon cake, its other pandan spin-offs such as the pandan swiss rolls taste even better!
This writer purchased the Classic Pure Pandan and the Golden Citrus chiffon cakes, together with swiss rolls in two flavors (Pandan Durian and Valrhona Chocolate) for her family. The verdict was unanimous. While the chiffon cakes were decent, the swiss rolls were outstanding. The Valrhona Chocolate swiss roll was a chocolate lover’s dream while the durian version had a generous amount of durian cream without being overwhelming.
Lastly, like many other F&B businesses, Pure Pandan faces an acute shortage of manpower, so Mark is looking forward to working closely with e2i to attract and train new staff, via the Place-and-Train Programme.
For a list of products and more information regarding Pure Pandan’s promotions for the month, visit https://purepandan.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/PurePandan/. And to find out more about e2i and how it can support your business, head over to https://e2i.com.sg/.