China: AccorHotels Supports Bakery Training for Disadvantaged Young Chinese People
Shanghai Young Bakers (SYB), the NGO that specialises in providing training for bakers and pastry chefs, helps young Chinese people from isolated rural communities into the world of work with a professional career. By supporting this programme since 2013, Solidarity AccorHotels has helped more than 150 young people to find work and embark on a career.
Li Yu and Fu Shuangxing are former SYB trainees who are now passionate about their jobs. They acquired their experience and expertise working alongside AccorHotels teams who accepted them for training as part of their SYB training.
Read what baker/pastry chefs Li Yu and Fu Shuangxing have to say about their experience of the programme that has shaped their lives:
Li Yu comes from Baoji in the rural Chinese province of Shaanxi.
At the end of his primary education, Li’s parents removed him from school because they could no longer afford for him to stay on. It’s a situation shared by a very large number of families in rural China. The only option open to Li was to find a job to help his family. “I would very likely have been a street vendor at that time”, he explains.
It was at this point in his life that Li heard about SYB and the training it offers; he then made a decisive choice by starting a baker/pastry chef apprenticeship at the age of 17.
That was in 2013. His devotion to thoroughness and constant determination quickly earned him a work experience placement at the Sofitel Shanghai Hongqiao.
The training he has received has completely changed his life, and he has not forgotten the daily challenges: “Constantly discovering new things, learning all the time and making new breads and new pastries every day”. The manager of the Sofitel became his “greatest inspiration and motivation”. Today, he recalls his ” attitude and willingness to identify the potential of every team member and get the best out of them”.
Since his training course ended 6 months ago, Li has been leading a night shift team of two, working from 11pm to 8 am. He has responsibility for all the bakery products produced and served by one of the largest hotels in Shanghai. And when you ask him what he’s most proud of, he has no hesitation in replying: “Working hard and succeeding to create extremely high-quality breads!”
“Being a baker has always been a dream as far back as I can remember”
Fu has been passionate about bread and pastry making since a very early age. When she was a young girl, she shared her passion with one of the staff at her orphanage, who told her straight away about the work of SYB. She realised then that it would be possible to combine her passion with a career: she saw new opportunities open up before her eyes!
When she joined the training programme in August 2015, Fu was very shy and had little confidence in her own abilities. During one of the SYB lessons, the tutor asked her to make a loaf of bread in the shape of her choice. She recalls: “I immediately thought that I couldn’t do it, and that I could never create something original”.
But with patience and training, Fu very quickly found that she could express her considerable talent! Her work experience as a member of the teams at the Sofitel Shanghai Hyland helped her to hone her skills. Fu learned an enormous amount from her colleagues at the Sofitel Shanghai Hyland, who she describes as true mentors.
Having completed the training course at SYB, she has put her qualification to good use, and now works in the kitchens of one of the largest hotels in downtown Shanghai. She has full responsibility for all the pastries served at breakfast. So what are her specialities? Baguettes, croissants and Danish pastries!
After a short transition period during which Fu learned to manage her own time and responsibilities effectively, she is now flourishing personally and professionally, and is delighted to have achieved her childhood dream. So what’s her next challenge? To open her own bakery in Shanghai! Fu definitely has a great future ahead of her!
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