“I did not know which way my future would go”, says Dinu, a Bakery School student from the Romanian class, expected to graduate in 2023. “The Bakery School lit up my path and gave me the opportunity to become a baker with a wonderful future. I love everything about this job, from the choice of ingredients to the end result; each new recipe is an experience that gives me confidence and makes me better.” Around the globe, there are 241 students like Dinu, baking for a better future.
Since 2014, the Bakery School Foundation has opened five Bakery Schools, in India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Romania. In these schools, youngsters are given the skills and knowledge to work in the Bakery, Patisserie and Chocolate industry. Puratos established the Foundation after observing that, on the one hand, there was a lack of well-trained and qualified staff in the bakery industry, and on the other hand, that many underprivileged youngsters had no professional education or prospects for a better future.
Worldwide, there is an increasing demand for finished goods such as breads, cakes and pastries, and a significant shortage of skilled workers to produce those. The Bakery School Foundation's mission is to make a significant impact on the life of a large number of underprivileged youngsters by training them to become future bakers, patissiers and chocolatiers. After their training, some students are hired by Puratos, while others receive help landing a job at one of our customers.
Students that are selected to join the Bakery School can expect an intensive programme. Over a two-year period, they deep-dive into 36 subjects, amounting to about 1,600 hours of training. They first learn about equipment, ingredient interaction and commodities, before starting with the technical and practical lessons, for instance, chocolate tempering, sourdough baking and decoration with vegetable cream. Moreover, they take courses on food safety, food labelling, sales management and basic finance.
Last year was challenging for the Bakery Schools. Like most educational institutions, the schools had to close due to the pandemic. But outside-the box thinking from the local teams quickly led to online courses so that learning could continue. Where needed, students received tablets or Wi-Fi connections so that they could participate in classes via Zoom. There were classes on digital marketing, and students received Puratos products at home, with which they could create new recipes. The results were shared with their fellow students and on social media.
In some locations, practical classes and graduation ceremonies were postponed; in other locations, they could take place, so students could then take their first step on the career ladder.
Roshan from India, for example, landed a job as a baker at Hybrid. “Roshan is an excellent baker and offers practical solutions”, his new employer says. “He's a quick and curious learner. In general, he is very punctual, really hard-working, and he enjoys his work.”
● In Brazil, we decided to start a new partnership with the Natasha Franco Vieira School. This technical school will host the programme from now on, offering students even better job opportunities thanks to the school's excellent reputation. The school also offers internships to gain professional experience and the option to follow classes in the evening so that students can work during the day.
● In Mexico, the first generation of students received their diplomas last year during an online graduation ceremony with renowned gastronomy chef Aquiles Chávez.
● The first and second generation of students in South Africa, 50 in total, are working hard to become the best bakers they can be. The Covid-19 crisis seriously affected the students, as several of their parents work as street vendors, meaning these families had no income for months on end. The Bakery School supplied them with weekly grocery packs containing rolls, flour, sugar and jam. Through a collaboration with the community church ‘Yahweh Church’, the students and the school offered supplies to the orphanage where most of the students come from. This initiative allowed us to feed 400 children twice a month!
● The Bakery School in India was happy and proud to see their fifth batch of students graduate. Due to the pandemic, the graduation was moved to 2021.
● The Bakery School in Romania opened its doors to the first students in 2020. The programme, which takes place in the small village of Tartasesti in collaboration with the local technical high school, is specifically targeted at teenagers. This Bakery School offers the first ‘dual education system’. Students follow classes and start working at a local company simultaneously, allowing them to put their knowledge directly into practice. This three year learning programme allows the students to receive a monthly scholarship and earns them an internationally certified diploma at the end of their studies.
“People Care is one of the important initiatives at Puratos”, says Peter Deriemaeker, Markets Director – Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. “The Bakery School Foundation is a reflection of this value, in our quest to facilitate a comfortable future for the skilled youngsters coming from underprivileged families.”
Puratos highly values sustainable entrepreneurship and makes a commitment to you and to future generations, for example, by contributing to the communities in which it operates. With the Bakery Schools, Puratos creates more value for society by tackling issues of inequality and unequal access to educational resources, a living income and healthcare.
In the future, the Bakery School Foundation will keep expanding to train enough qualified workers for the Bakery, Patisserie and Chocolate sectors, and most importantly, contribute to the social, economic and ecologically sustainable development of developing countries and their young people. A new Bakery School will open in the Philippines in the autumn of 2021, and the intention is to open one new school each year. The goal? To soon have 1000 students taking classes in schools around the world.
Want to know more about the Bakery School Foundation and its students? You can discover more stories at bakeryschoolfoundation.com.