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22 July, 2021

Simply the best…. Bakers wanted

WANTED urgently: two qualified bakers, to start work at one of far north Queensland’s busiest bakeries.

By David Gardiner

The multiple award-winning Babinda Bakery has had to close on Mondays for the past couple of weeks and has had to stop doing wholesale bread production until it can find at least one new trade baker to come on board.

Owners Mick and Annette McAlloon say they have had to advertise around Australia, through job websites, agencies, ‘Indeed’ Job Search and on social media – even placing ads for qualified bakers on community Facebook pages in other states such as Victoria.

“Our young guy that we just had has left, he’s left the trade altogether and it’s just a battle to find someone,” said Annette. They have decided to temporarily close on Mondays, because the existing team of bakers and cooks have already had to work extra hard.

“We need to give them a break. We’ve been open right through COVID.”

On his own, Mick makes 2,500 of its widely popular pies a week for the shopfront. The bakery’s top-seller is probably its cream buns, and the slices are also sought after.

But finding staff to help ease the baking pressure on the reduced team has proven to be difficult.

COVID isn’t the reason why there’s a shortage of trade bakers. Annette and Mick have been through similar difficulties finding qualified staff over the 12 years they’ve had Babinda Bakery, including before the pandemic.

Bakery bookkeeper Christina Forrest said it’s evident that there have been fewer apprentice bakers coming through the ranks; young school leavers are simply not taking up bakery as a trade.

“If they’re going to do a trade, it’s like I want to become an electrician or a diesel mechanic,” Christina said.

“I don’t think being a baker is deemed being glorifying enough maybe? And it stumps me as to why, because it’s actually paid quite well and you could travel around Australia, walk into any bakery in any regional or capital city, and they would give you a job and you could pretty well say, this is what I want to get paid and reasonably, they would take you on.”

Annette said it’s the sort of trade that might need more promotion by training organisations and industry bodies, perhaps with the help of government funding. She thinks that not enough young people are attracted to baking, probably because they don’t know enough about it.

“In a small town, it’s a full-time job. They don’t have to go far,” Annette said.

Babinda Bakery is offering incentives and “an attractive package” to potential new bakers, even offering to help with moving costs.

Christina said: “You finish work by 11 o’clock in the morning and you can have the rest of the day to be with your kids or play golf or travel; it’s actually really a great gig.”

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