When it comes to a career in our industry, the next generation of bakers, food scientists and engineers don’t fully realize the tremendous potential that’s out there. Let’s face it. The industry has to do a better job with making a key personal connection to young people before they commit to college and spend tens of thousands of dollars on their future.

But don’t believe me. That’s what former high school students say, those who are graduates of the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) and its Future of Food program in suburban Kansas City.

“Honestly, there needs to be a change and an encouragement by the food industry in the school systems,” said Abby Mitchell, who attended CAPS just a few years ago and now works in the food industry.

Laila Carter, another CAPS graduate now employed in a food science career, suggested that bakeries and other food manufacturers open their doors to allow students to experience how the industry really works. If that’s not possible, discussing career opportunities in a classroom setting is invaluable to raising awareness of the food industry. CAPS and other programs allow food operations to flip the switch and shine a bright light on a potential career for high school juniors and seniors.

“I loved going to startup companies and seeing what they did in smaller scale production,” she said. “That is something that is so important. It allows you to put yourself in other people’s shoes and gives you more insight and exposure. You’re more comfortable seeing yourself in situation where you have already been in that situation.”

Kirsty Gordon observed that participating in the CAPS program paid dividends, especially while she was attending Kansas State University.

“Even at the college level, students didn’t have that same knowledge of food, or not even a foundation, that we had from being in CAPS,” the former student said. “The food industry is not quite connecting with people enough.”

When it comes to the future, the baking industry needs to start earlier in recruiting for tomorrow’s workforce. That’s exactly what CAPS does, but so does identifying talent in your workplace.

A new study by the American Bakers Association and NDP Analytics found that entry-level frontline workers in the wholesale baking industry have opportunities to grow into leadership positions within their companies. In fact, 66% of companies participating in the Baking Industry’s Frontline Workforce Landscape study reported that at least one in every four frontline supervisors or managers were promoted from within the business last year.

If you’re looking for talented people, just look around in your company and your community or reach out to CAPS. The future is everywhere. Give them a chance. They’re just looking for you to show them the way to a world of opportunity waiting just for them.

This editorial is from the November 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire issue, click here.