The American Bakers Association’s HR Committee recently honed in on specific programs and resources the baking industry can utilize to help fill the current and expected skills gap within the industry.  After reviewing detailed data from “The Workforce Gap in U.S. Commercial Baking: Trends, Challenges and Solutions,” HR Committee members discussed the proposed solutions suggested by the project as well as heard from outside experts on programs that will help in recruiting, development and retention. 

The HR Committee will continue to work on solutions to help fill the workforce gap facing the baking industry throughout the rest of 2016. In October 2016 just before the start of the IBIE 2016 expo in Las Vegas, ABA will host another HR & Labor Conference, spending a full day discussing tools and resources available to address the void of skilled talent needed to fill critical positions within the industry. 

At the most recent committee meeting, attendees heard from Paula Marshall, President and CEO, and Lindsey Sage, Health and Wellness Manager, with the Bama Companies regarding what bakers need to know when building a successful health management strategy that gets results.  Attendees learned how to make their health and wellness program a major component of the overall benefits plan to help attract and retain talent.

In addition, Stacey Rose, HR and Labor Relations Manager with The Kroger Co., and Bill Klaus, US Dept. of Labor (DOL) Georgia State Director, shared the success that The Kroger Co. is now having with the DOL’s apprenticeship program.  The Kroger Co. has partnered with several state Departments of Labor to build out apprenticeship programs geared toward training technical talent that fits the needs of several Kroger manufacturing locations.  This program is another tool to help decrease the critical shortage the industry is now facing regarding skilled maintenance mechanics.

The Workforce Gap report, commissioned by both ABA and the American Society of Baking, provides details on how wide the gap is for the baking industry, and more importantly, sets forth a framework for solutions and programs to help fill the gap. 

“Preliminary details show that the dearth in skilled talent, especially involving maintenance and engineering positions, is a major concern for the industry, and the gap will only continue to widen should the status quo remain,” says ABA president and CEO Robb MacKie. “But, more importantly, the report sheds light on some great programs currently underway within the industry, and ABA will focus the rest of 2016 to bring forth tools and resources to help bakers take steps to address their individual talent management needs.”

The report dives into specifics regarding trends among the baking industry, including detailed information on the current and expected gap, along with specific information on challenges and solutions related to recruitment, training and retention. Of note, 84 percent of bakers indicated that machine operators are deficient in needed skills when hired or promoted.

At the same time, bakers indicated that the No. 1 challenge they face in recruiting individuals to enter the industry is a lack of brand identity. “Not only do new hires lack the required knowledge to help fill critical needs within the bakery, qualified individuals are not aware of the benefits of a career in baking, creating extremely barren recruiting grounds for the industry,” MacKie says.

“The good news is that the industry is responding, and the report provides detailed case studies into how individual bakers have created programs to help build a well-trained and loyal base of employees,” MacKie adds. “ABA is gearing up to take the remainder of 2016 to build out specific programs that those in the baking industry can utilize to help meet their specific talent management needs.”