ABA, ASB Release New Study on Recruitment Trends and Best Practices in Commercial Baking

The American Bakers Association (ABA) and the American Society of Baking (ASB) have released their joint study, 2021 Workforce Gap in U.S. Commercial Baking: Recruitment Trends & Best Practices. Conducted in October 2021 by Cypress Research, the study assesses challenges and best practices for workforce recruitment in the U.S. commercial baking industry.

An update to 2016’s, Workforce Gap in U.S. Commercial Baking: Trends, Challenges and Solutions, the 2021 findings help baking employers better understand the current recruitment trends for hourly, skilled production employees and how they have changed in the past five years. The study also explores new in-depth industry data on the recruitment of drivers and hourly, unskilled production employees.

Expanding Recruitment Strategies

The top five recruitment challenges for commercial baking employers have not changed in the last five years. Identifying talent pools and building awareness about baking manufacturing careers have remained primary recruitment challenges for hourly skilled and unskilled production positions. However, baking employers have expanded their portfolio of recruitment strategies to address these challenges. In comparison to 2016, there has been a significant increase in companies using formal employee referral programs, social media channels, and virtual or in-person local career fairs to attract hourly, skilled production employees.

Baking employers are also seeking to reach new audiences who may not be aware of baking manufacturing careers. This outreach includes second chance workers who are being introduced to baking careers at growing rates. The number of baking companies with some or considerable focus on recruiting second chance workers has increased from 38% in 2016 to 78% in 2021.

Growing Branding and Culture

Baking employers are investing in strategies to foster a positive work environment and culture. Most companies reported implementing these strategies in several ways, including via internal company websites or social media channels to connect employees and encourage collaboration and teamwork. In addition, baking employers are growing awareness of their brands and the workplace cultures they foster by hosting company-specific career fairs, both in-person and virtual. In 2016, only 28% of companies were doing so, while in 2021, that has increased to 69%.

Efforts to generate awareness of company brands and baking manufacturing career opportunities have also strengthened the partnerships employers have forged with an array of educational, non-profit, and government organizations. The number of baking employers who have developed relationships with state employment agencies, two-year technical colleges, and local vocational high school programs has increased since 2016.

“The baking industry has been dedicated to introducing Americans across the country to rewarding baking manufacturing careers,” said Robb MacKie, ABA President and CEO. “Our industry’s most important ingredient is our workforce and this study gives baking employers new insights to grow this community of 800,000 essential employees.”

“We have seen baking companies adapt and innovate their strategies to find the most effective ways to reach candidates,” said Kent Van Amburg, ASB Executive Director. “As the industry continues to face extraordinary workforce challenges, developing research like this is a critical step in equipping companies with tools they need to support their recruitment and retention efforts.”

The 2021 Workforce Gap in U.S. Commercial Baking: Recruitment Trends & Best Practices study was produced jointly by the American Bakers Association and the American Society of Baking, in conjunction with Cypress Research, as a resource for ABA and ASB Members.

The full study, a member only benefit, may by clicking this image:

The key findings can be accessed by clicking this image:

The joint ASB & ABA press release can be accessed by clicking this image:

The Workforce Gap in U.S. Commercial Baking

ASB members report that the biggest challenge facing the future of the baking industry and their individual companies is the lack of a skilled workforce to fill the positions that are being vacated by the increasing number of senior employees who are retiring.

To combat the widening workforce skills gap in baking and manufacturing, the American Bakers Association (ABA) and the American Society of Baking (ASB) released an anticipated and comprehensive multi-phase study – The Workforce Gap in U.S. Commercial Baking: Trends, Challenges and Solutions. ABA and ASB commissioned Cypress Research Associates, LLC to gauge the current state of commercial bakery manufacturer employment, amplify best practices among employers and recommend plans of action to minimize the workforce skills gap in the baking industry.

The recently released study, “The Workforce Gap in U.S. Commercial Baking: Challenges and Solutions, 2016” documents the existing and future labor issues facing our industry and suggests some possible solutions that companies can use to recruit, train and retain skilled workers.

We all know that the wholesale baking industry is facing a shortage of qualified employees.  A large number of current and anticipated job opportunities are available in engineering, maintenance, machine operations, food scientists and research & development.

  • 78% of the baking companies reported a shortage of employees in engineering and maintenance positions, both hourly and salaried.  This shortage is expected to remain “high” to “severe”.
  • Skilled positions have grown by 60% over the past 5 years.  The baking industry is deficient in employees in all areas of production with leadership skills, problem solving and decision making skills, as well as baking-industry specific technical skills.
  • The increased use of automation/robotics (58% over the past 5 years) is opening the door for employees with technology/computer knowledge and math skills.
  • By 2025, companies anticipate a rise in shortages among hourly machine operator and unskilled production positions, and salaried scientist and R&D positions, with increases of 21%, 19% and 17% respectively, compared to current levels.

Click here to read the joint press release from ASB & ABA.

The full study can be accessed by clicking this image:

The best practices guide can be accessed by clicking this image:

The case studies can be accessed by clicking this image:

The American Society of Baking is already hard at work developing programs to address the current and future workforce gap in our industry.  ASB is revamping our scholarship program to help students break into the wholesale baking industry. We are actively helping students understand the incredible scope of opportunities in the fields of food science, engineering/manufacturing, and bakery science.  ASB has developed a Careers Section on our website that lists universities, culinary institutes and certification programs. We also profile companies and recognize individuals to help increase general awareness of bakery manufacturing as a desired career.

ASB needs your help providing concrete information that will assist potential new employees gain an understanding of the careers available in the wholesale baking industry.

Please add the following to the ASB Career section of our website to help students and upwardly mobile employees gain the skills and knowledge needed for a successful career in the baking industry.: