Did you know that bakers are the fourth scarcest skill in the wholesale and retail sector today? “In fact, in 2018, the Wholesale & Retail SETA identified bakers and confectioners as scarce resources for the fifth year in a row,” says Richard Kuppan, the national training manager for the newly-launched Bakery School South Africa. “However, as bigger retail groups consistently add new stores and as we notice steady growth in informal sectors of small bakeries, we cannot ignore the need for skills in this space.”

Chipkins Puratos Bakery School SA, which was launched on the 11th of February, is based at the Masisebenze Secondary School in Tembisa. It aims to address the need for skilled bakers by training 25 grade 11 learners from the Masisebenze Secondary School over two years, allowing them to graduate with both a matric certificate and an industry-recognised technical qualification (NQF level 2 in bread and flour confectionary). Not only will they leave school with practical skills and baking experience, they’ll also be skilled in business focus areas such as finance and communication. In 2020, another 25 students will begin their training, which means that from next year the school will be training 50 students at a time. The students will attend normal school classes during the day until 3PM, after which they’ll receive 4 hours of training per day.

“Our intentions are to take previously disadvantaged grade 11 learners into a training and upskilling environment, and expose them to theoretical and practical lessons that will ultimately empower them with the skills needed to access real, tangible employment opportunities. At the same time, we will also provide those who demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit with the skills needed to begin their journey to self-employment,” says Richard.

Puratos has opened three other schools globally, namely in India, Brazil and Mexico, and they expect to see similar results in the South African establishment. “The courses have been designed to take pupils beyond basic education and to give them the practical training needed to make a decent living,” notes Kuppan. “Chipkins Puratos will employ the top  graduates at the close of the programme, depending on the needs of the organisation at that time. Generally, at least five of our students will be offered secure employment upon completion with the remaining learners becoming part of a pipeline for customers and partners of the company.”

“We realise how important it is to support the up-and-coming bakers of tomorrow, but this programme has far reaching consequences when you consider the socio economic impact that can be realised,” he says.

The Baking School will cover Communication, Bread and Roll Making, Confectionary Making, Maths, Cake Decorating and Chocolate Making. One lecturer will cover the classes, and she brings with her four years of training experience – she has also been to Belgium for training to align with international standards. The school comes equipped with two training labs, an equipment room, chocolate room and lecture room.

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