The Baking Industry Alliance (B.I.A.) was established earlier this year as part of the American Bakers Association’s Strategic Plan with an intent to drive promotion and growth of the baking industry by harnessing the expertise and resources of organizations representing the industry. The A.B.A. invited leaders to join a movement, and these organizations responded with enthusiasm, ready to take on industry challenges together. The B.I.A. — composed of the volunteer member chairs and professional staff executives of the A.B.A., AIB International, the American Society of Baking, the Allied Trades of the Baking Industry, the Grain Foods Foundation and the North American Millers’ Association — has focused its first-year efforts on addressing the issue of workforce retention and recruitment. 

After in-depth discussions among the B.I.A. members as well as a review of industry survey data, including the 2016 A.B.A. and A.S.B. study on “The Workforce Gap in U.S. Commercial Baking,” there was a consensus that the workforce issue is a significant industry challenge that warrants the attention of the B.I.A. The A.B.A.'s 2017 strategic planning survey reinforced the importance of this focus. The survey asked the industry about issues having the greatest impact on business, and three out of four of the top issues had to do with the workforce. Answers included “finding workers with appropriate skills and training,” “developing future leaders within the company,” and the “image of the industry and ability to attract skilled workers.”

On Sept. 10 at 11 a.m., the coalition will meet at the A.B.A./BEMA booth to showcase the USO Pathfinder program, which will help the industry engage military and veteran communities as they transition from military career to the civilian workforce. Attendees can meet with program representatives to learn about career opportunities and how they can be a resource to USO Pathfinder.

The B.I.A. also is exploring other opportunities to provide workforce solutions for the industry. Stay tuned.