Kellogg partners with trade group to teach new workers the basics of baking
- As more boomer employees approach retirement, Kellogg is overhauling its recruiting and onboarding processes because new workers don’t fully understand baking basics, reports Baking Business. The company is partnering with the American Bakers Association’s Cookie & Cracker Academy to teach new recruits practical manufacturing knowledge, like the difference between good and bad dough.
- An inaugural course was held recently in the food manufacturer’s Cincinnati facility. Students included frontline workers, technicians and supervisory personnel ranging from tenured employees to those who had been with the company fewer than six months. Kellogg intends to refine the course based on feedback from this inaugural group and offer it on a regular basis.
- “We focus a lot of our onboarding on people safety, food safety and operational equipment, but one of the gaps we were seeing was in the processing area,” Ashley Dougan, director, continuous improvement at Kellogg told Baking Business. “The basic knowledge was something we took for granted in the past; people had grown up understanding basic baking skills. But we’re seeing a real gap of people who don’t have that basic knowledge.”
Boomers have fundamentally reshaped each life stage they’ve entered, and changes in the economy and business environment have followed. Retirement is no different. As more boomers leave the workforce, some food companies are finding it challenging to replace their skills, knowledge and experience.
Growing up in an era of fast food, convenience foods, prepared meal solutions and meal kit services, a large portion of younger generations just haven’t had the need or desire to learn how to cook and bake. The combination of fewer new workers entering the workforce — particularly in the manufacturing sector — and a lack of skilled laborers could have a profound impact on food companies and plant processes going forward.
If they can't find enough qualified, knowledgeable workers for their businesses, it could potentially slow the production process or minimize the chance they find a mistake that could have far-reaching impacts on their operation in the long term, such as a food recall.
Companies will need to think outside the box to close these gaps, and many are likely to turn to automation and new technology. Robots already are being used in retail warehouses to pick and sort products. Stores such as Walmart and Ahold Delhaize are deploying robots to support tasks such as scanning shelves and counting stock.
It’s not much of a stretch to imagine robots penetrating food manufacturing plants as well. According to management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, today’s robots, food-related or otherwise, only automate about 10% of the tasks that machines can perform, though that number is expected to increase to about 25% in the next decade. If this trend holds, this could solve manufacturers' headaches over employment gaps, though it could also cause disruption for young workers looking to enter the food industry and upset union groups.
For now, human workers are a crucial part of the food manufacturing business, and as long as they remain involved in key operations, having trained, well-informed workers benefits the employees and businesses, too. Kellogg is smart to look to the future to correct a problem that while it isn't dire now, could end up have a major impact on its business in the long term if it isn't fixed.
- BakingBusiness.com Kellogg partners with A.B.A. for cookie and cracker training
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