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The Relationship Between College Certificate Programs and Industry: Part 1- The Industry

by Dina Hamed 
I have interviewed four different Chef Professors working in various college baking and pastry arts programs across Canada, including Niagara College Canada (NCC), Vancouver Island University (VIU), Vancouver Community College (VCC), the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), and the Culinary Institute of Canada (CIC) in PEI. Our conversations revealed a consensus on 5 main points relating to the educational training and labour challenges facing the baking and pastry arts industry today.

  1. 1-2-year college certificate programs are now the main model for obtaining professional/formal education in baking and pastry arts (largely replacing the apprenticeship model).
  2. The 1-2-year college programs have high enrollment.
  3. There is still a labour shortage of bakers and pastry chefs for qualified positions in the industry.
  4. Job qualifications for entry-level roles in the industry are not consistent; sometimes baking/pastry arts college certificates are required other times they are not.
  5. The industry needs to demand that candidates have higher training for some kind of regulation to be established for the trade. (Barnett, Findlay, Gower, Libertini, and Schoenrank, personal communications, 2021)

While I personally agree with all the points on this list, I believe both industry and the colleges have a hand in our current labour shortage crisis.

According to the various Chef Professors I spoke to, the ideal relationship between the colleges and industry should be that the college programs produce qualified candidates who will take up vacant positions in the industry, while employers maintain consistent, minimum requirements for entry-level jobs (i.e., a candidate must have a certificate in baking and pastry arts) (Barnett, Findlay, Gower, Libertini, and Schoenrank, personal communications, 2021). The graphic below, which I created, helps me visualize this ideal symbiotic relationship.

So, what is happening on either side of this relationship that might be contributing to the labour crisis? Let’s start with the industry and an exploration of job requirements posted for entry-level baking and pastry related positions that would be suitable for 1-2-year college certificate graduates.

The following images are screenshots of various job postings taken from LinkedIn:

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Evidently, most of these employers don’t even mention the college certificate as a requirement and the ones that do indicate that it would be an asset but not compulsory to have. I also included some job postings for Executive Pastry Chef positions and only one employer requires that their candidates have formal education in baking and pastry arts.

What inferences can we make from this brief analysis? For one, we could infer that the industry puts more emphasis on experience and does not specify how that experience should be gained. In this way, employers are ensure the market stays open and salary negotiations remain flexible due to the myriad of experience their candidates are bound to have since there is no clear baseline or starting point for negotiations (i.e., not everyone is required to have a college certificate). It means, that job opportunities can be filled by candidates who are self-taught or individuals who may not have committed to the industry in the same way as someone who chose formal education, or a combination of the two. This is not to say bakers who are self-taught aren’t just as skilled—or sometimes even more so—they most definitely can be! The reality is, in a trade that is not regulated, employers do and are setting the standard for job requirements, and not making the college certificate mandatory means less job vacancies for college graduates. And finally, it means that industry is awarding the title of “Pastry Chef," “Executive Pastry Chef," or "Head Pastry Chef" to individuals who may not have earned those titles, largely devaluing the occupation. If industry does not demand any form of consistent trade regulation for their workers, I believe, employers will continue to experience high turn over and labour shortages. Baking is a difficult industry with long, tiresome hours and strenuous, physical demands on the body. It requires a certain dedication, commitment, passion, and love for the craft to survive and thrive within it.

Sources

Executive Pastry Chef [Advertisement]. (2021). Retrieved 2021, from https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/...

Executive Pastry Chef- Canoe [Advertisement]. (2021). Retrieved 2021, from https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/...

Experienced Pastry Chef [Advertisement]. (2021). Retrieved 2021, fromhttps://www.linkedin.com/jobs/...

Head Pastry Chef/Doughnut Chef [Advertisement]. (2021). Retrieved 2021, from https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/...

Pastry Chef [Advertisement]. (2021). Retrieved 2021, from https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/...

Pastry Chef [Advertisement]. (2021). Retrieved 2021, from https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/...

Watland, S. Pastry Chef [Advertisement]. (2021). Retrieved 2021, from https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/...