Bakeries are booming; bakers not so much

Industry officials lobbying province to establish apprenticeship program


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Baking industry officials say Manitoba needs more skilled bakers, so they’re lobbying the provincial government to establish an apprenticeship program.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/03/2018 (1883 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Baking industry officials say Manitoba needs more skilled bakers, so they’re lobbying the provincial government to establish an apprenticeship program.

Andreas Ingenfeld, co-chair of the bakery advisory committee, said that Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the only provinces that don’t have an apprenticeship program for bakers. So anyone wishing to obtain their red seal certification, which is recognized throughout the country, has to go out of province to do it.

Ingenfeld said certification means bakers have the potential to earn more money and be employable in other provinces.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Andreas Ingenfeld (right), co-owner of Crusty Bun Bakery & Café, and Josiah Grafe, the bakery’s head baker and an apprentice who has to go to B.C. for the academic portion of his education, both believe Manitoba needs its own program.

“We want to get more young people interested in our trade,” he said, especially with all of the new bakeries that have opened in the province in recent years.

Ingenfeld said when he and his wife, Friederike Brandt, opened their first European-style bakery, the Crusty Bun, in 2009, there were just a handful of other bakeries in Winnipeg.

“Now you find them everywhere.”

He said he’s not sure how many more trained bakers are needed, but he’d hire at least two more if he could find them.

He noted the Crusty Bun has been sending its head bakers to Germany for five weeks of specialized training in European-style baking at a cost of about $10,000 per student. It would continue to do that even if Manitoba had its own apprenticeship program, he said.

The head baker at the Crusty Bun’s Headmaster Row outlet is enrolled in an apprenticeship program in British Columbia.

Josiah Grafe, 22, said he enrolled there because he has friends he can stay with while taking the classroom portion of the three-year program. British Columbia allows apprentices to take their classroom instruction there and their on-the-job training somewhere else. At least two other provinces — Alberta and Ontario — do not, he said.

Grafe said it would have been much easier if he could take the entire apprenticeship program in Winnipeg. And while it will be too late for him — he wrote his final exam in January — he hopes Manitoba does get its own program.

“It does make it a whole lot easier for people. I think it also would raise the standards for baking… because people who devote the time to this (obtaining certification) take it seriously. And if you have people who take their job more seriously, I think you get a lot better product.”

Ingenfeld said Red River College, Assiniboine Community College and the Louis Riel School Division’s Arts & Technical Centre offer some training for bakers. Red River has a one-year program that includes six weeks of on-the-job training. Ingenfeld said that’s not long enough to produce a highly trained baker.

“To really learn the trade, you have to be with a company for a long time. You learn by repeating, repeating and routine, routine and you have to learn from your mistakes. You have to see what can go wrong and how you can fix it.”

He said the bakery advisory committee acts as the liaison between industry and the educational institutions that deliver the training and has their support in its bid to get an apprenticeship program started here.

Karen McDonald, chair of Red River’s school of hospitality and culinary arts, confirmed the college would like to see an apprenticeship program established here.

“I think it’s a great idea because it does raise the profile of the profession and it does recognize (it) as a legitimate profession that requires years of training.”

McDonald said if a program is established, Red River would apply to deliver the training, since it already offers a baking program and has an apprenticeship program for cooks.

She couldn’t say how many more trained bakers the industry needs, but noted the college has no difficulty finding job placements for its baking students. She also said there is a two-year waiting list of people who want to take the program.

She said having an apprenticeship program might not result in a big increase in the number of bakers, but it would allow those already working in the industry to obtain their red seal certification.

Ingenfeld said the committee submitted a formal proposal to Apprenticeship Manitoba at the start of 2017 and is obtaining letters of support from industry players.

It hopes to present the letters to the government in the spring.

He said the committee realizes that because of the province’s austerity measures, it won’t be an easy sell.

“It always comes down to nickels and dimes.”

A provincial government spokeswoman said the trade designation request is being considered. She said it can cost $200,000 for a trade to be designated in Manitoba.

The cost may include a feasibility study, board and staff time and the development of technical training.

There are also costs associated with operating the program, she said.

“Additional evidence of support from industry stakeholders is required to move forward with the request.”


Updated on Saturday, March 31, 2018 8:06 AM CDT: Photo added.

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