The American Bakers Association has begun work on a new project: The Workforce Gap in U.S. Commercial Baking — Trends, Challenges & Solutions. The valuable year-long project is geared toward developing solutions to fill the workforce skills gap in the baking industry.

“If our industry doesn’t proactively address this growing concern, we will fall behind when competing with other business sectors for talent,” noted Robb MacKie, A.B.A.’s president and chief executive officer.

Focusing on skills is vitally important when training staff. Unfortunately, the training that operators and support personnel often receive is task-oriented, said Jim Kline, Baking & Snack’s contributing editor. Such training focuses on the desired outcomes instead of the skills required to perform the task. Examples would be how to change speed, properly time the equipment or replace a slicer blade.

The weakness in task-oriented training is that workers are not necessarily prepared to handle exceptions. The inability to diagnose and handle exceptions can create product quality and equipment performance issues. However, skill-based training provides the learning tools required to perform such tasks as measuring methods, basic statistics, problem solving, quality sampling, food and personal safety, as well as the specific skills required to operate and maintain the equipment.

Find out more about skill-based training in Mr. Kline’s column in the November issue ofBaking & Snackand support A.B.A.’s vital initiative to make the baking industry stronger in the long run.