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The Workforce Gap in US Commercial Baking: Trends, Challenges & Solutions

Monday, February 27  10:30 AM - 11:15 Am

Due to the increasing workforce gap in U.S. commercial bakery manufacturing, The American Bakers Association (ABA) and The American Society of Baking (ASB) commissioned Cypress Research Associates, LLC to conduct multi-phase research to determine the extent of the workforce gap and solutions being applied within broader manufacturing and commercial baking.

Goals of the research were to identify:

  • Bakery manufacturer perceptions of the current and projected state of employment among hourly, skilled bakery production job positions, specifically:
    • Machine operators
    • Maintenance/engineering
  • Best practices/solutions in addressing the talent gap within these hourly, skilled bakery production job positions in the following areas:
    • Attracting/recruiting skilled talent
    • Training talent to address skills gaps
    • Retaining skilled talent
    • Workforce management

The study included an extensive review of published literature on the skills gap in U.S. manufacturing, in-depth telephone interviews with manufacturing executives, case study development, and an online survey of commercial bakery manufacturing executives.   Participating companies in the online survey represent 73% of the U.S. commercial baking industry.

Key research findings will be presented including:

  • The workforce gap among U.S. commercial bakers is largest among the following job positions:
    • Hourly, skilled maintenance/engineering positions (high to severe shortage)
    • Hourly, skilled machine operators
    • Salaried engineering/maintenance positions
  • The top 3 skill deficiencies at hire or promotion are the same for maintenance/engineering and machine operators:
    • Baking-industry specific technical skills
    • Leadership skills
    • Problem solving/decision making skills
  • Only about three in ten baking companies currently offer any form of training in the leadership or problem solving skills development.

In order to adequately address the workforce gap within U.S. Commercial Baking, a coordinated effort is required from all key stakeholders:

  • Industry-wide collaboration and coalition building at national and local levels
    • Manufacturers
    • Industry associations & support organizations
    • Educational institutions
    • Government organizations (local, state, national)
  • Corporate-level commitment and company-wide involvement in the issue
    • Sufficient time & resources to implement solutions

Attendees will walk away with an understanding of key solutions based on findings from this multi-phase study that can be implemented by individual companies and/or industry-wide.

Marjorie Troxel Hellmer, Cypress Research Associates, LLC

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