← Back Published on

Part 5: Revisiting Our Training/Educational Needs: Why Making the BAC Membership More Robust is an Excellent Starting Point!

by Dina Hamed

Among the many tangents we discussed during our conversation, Martin shared with me one way in particular he believes BAC can address the potential gaps we have in the industry’s training and educational needs. It starts by taking a look at the current BAC membership program:

One of the situations I have inherited at the Baking Association of Canada is that there is two categories of membership, affiliates and bakers. An ‘affiliate’ is like a supplier or a yeast manufacturer…and a ‘baker’ can be…Wonderbread or it can be the individual family run artisan bakery down the road. It can [also] be the chocolate maker on the high street. And I think that categorizing all those different subsets of the ‘big baker category’ is important…A chocolatier doesn’t feel any affinity to Wonderbread. But at the baking association they’re the same designation. So, we have some work to do there.

One of the things I have been thinking about is…[within] the ‘baker’ category…you have the big industrials, a bakery that is just wholesale, a bakery that is wholesale and retail,…bakeries that are just retail, then you have specialties. Are you a wholegrain bakery, artisan bakery…a specialty pastry shop? All those people should be recognized for the specific work that they do and have their own network within the baking association. So, if I’m an artisan baker I don’t want to talk to [Wonderbread] about my baking issues. I don’t have the same issues as them on their level. But I do want to talk to the [other] artisan bakers about milling, quality of flour, new refrigeration techniques for slow-proof baking etc. And the chocolatiers want to talk to other people that use chocolate.

So, if we can categorize our members like that and also enhance our membership by recruiting the new bakers that don’t know anything about the baking association then from that level, we can start a discussion about,...'What training does your specific shop need?' Do we need to have a dedicated course on chocolate tempering? Should it be within the Red Seal [apprenticeship] program or outside of the Red Seal program? Is that an add-on credential? But let’s give it a credential. Let somebody spend a few weeks learning how to make chocolate, from the best people, endorsed by their national association, and walk away with an [interprovincial] certificate…We’re also looking at giving all enrolled bakery and pastry students in Canada a free membership to the association. (personal communication, September 29, 2021)

The free membership would be offered to any student who is enrolled in either the college certificate programs or the apprenticeship program, or as Martin puts it, to anyone “…who has made a commitment to the industry” (Barnett, personal communication, September 29, 2021). In other words, BAC not only wants to make their membership more robust by creating more niche-specific membership categories and networks but by also making the membership more accessible to those just starting out in the industry, who will then be able to pass along information to others as they move up the ranks:

Right now, if your company is a member of the association, you might be a really big company and all the membership information probably goes to one person. And all the bakers that work at that job probably never get to hear about what’s going on. So, we want to somehow expand the program so that all the information reaches every affiliate that’s involved. (Barnett, personal communication, September 29, 2021)

While this is exciting news and, I agree wholeheartedly, a step that needs to be taken. I can’t help but wonder how BAC plans on making its membership enticing for individuals? Or how industry players such as myself, who can learn chocolate tempering from resources like YouTube, will buy into a membership that provides an accredited credential in chocolate tempering, if employers still do not require such a qualification? I think this comes back to the matter of regulation for our industry and what over-regulation versus adequate regulation means to us.