Blow up a profiterole?
Honestly. Every time someone says there's a shortage of bakers out there or they start whinging about apprentices I want to scream.
I'm wondering aloud here: what do I have to do to get a start in a bakery?
I'm in my thirties. Hardly decrepit and certainly nowhere near an old age pension. I have experience in both a plant and shop bakery as part of my studies (placements) and I did well. I have completed 80% of my education - Cert III Baking (Combined) - and am seriously considering a further qualification in patisserie to fine tune what I've covered in the first certificate. I made good grades in my exams. I turned up to class every day on time and ready to go. I have an excellent command of the English language as well as two others. I'm not fat or lazy, well presented and I keep healthy by maintaining my fitness and eating well.
Oh yeah, and you'd think it wouldn't matter, but I'm a woman. And, surprisingly, I'm finding that it does matter.
I can't tell you how many jobs I've applied for (apprenticeships and baker's assistant roles) because it's embarrassing. And it's demoralising. And when I read threads about not being able to get apprentices or baker shortages, it's insulting.
I have employers infer that they want someone young, male and low on the pay scale. (To check the gender theory, I put my first initial instead of my first name and got twice the responses). Bugger the fact that I have life and other career experience and have bothered to pay for my own education. Or that I can show the boys a thing or two in class about lifting a sack properly or recognising the difference between flour and sugar (yes, really). They look at my CV and tell me I'd be bored or that I'm over qualified (????wtf?), that I wouldn't fit in with the boys, excuses, excuses and a few unlawful shortcuts. I don't expect a pay packet equal to a qualified baker but I do expect to be treated fairly. And another thing. You can't trial someone for free. It's unlawful in this country and rightly so. And you can't expect someone to probation for six months either. Since they got rid of Johnny Howard's draconian workplace legislation, that's unlawful too. So yes, you do pay penalty rates and you do follow the award. But you'd rather hire someone without a scrap of English who can whip up a beautiful baguette but doesn't have an appreciation of the Australian marketplace or industry when you can employ me who can and does?
My classmate, another woman, ended up supervising an overseas baker on her placement because he didn't know how to use the metric system, measured everything by volume and actually had the gall to insist that the imperial system was superior. And she was still passed over for an apprenticeship. Three months later the idiot leaves and the employer whinges about "not being able to get staff.." !!!!
Sorry. I'm rambling. And I know I may sound bitter. Maybe I am. But I'm fed up. Australia is awash with vibrant, willing citizens who are very capable of holding their own but are getting cast aside because they aren't young enough, willing to be paid a pittance, work in sh*tful conditions nor led by the nose. Oh and yes, some of us can actually bake.
Of my bakery class, 70% have quit the industry. Of the few of us left, some have opted to open their own place, work overseas or keep going in the hope that the tide will turn and someone will say yes.
Maybe they'll employ me in Europe. Because as soon as I can raise the fare that's exactly where I'm going.