iBakery hires people with a wide spread of disabilities. Compared to other organisations, the difference in staff abilities is much greater, meaning that individually-tailored training is necessary. “We assign staff to different roles according to their abilities,” continues Rita. “We also try to break down our work processes into smaller parts, and to set standards, that are easier for our staff to follow. Take cookie making as an example: more able staff learn how to make the dough, while less able ones are allocated easier tasks such as cutting the dough into shapes, packaging or cleaning.”
Michelle recalls the early days when she first started her internship at iBakery. She felt nervous and hesitant because of the strange, new environment and training, and even thought about giving up. But, with patient guidance from her trainers, she gradually became accustomed to her new workplace, and got along well with her teammates. “The trainers are very patient and give encouragement; they always tell me to take things slowly and give me opportunities to learn new things.”
Now, Michelle’s baking skills have matured, and she has fully mastered the production of the bakery’s signature Matcha cake, for which she is responsible for making most of the orders. Sometimes, she also assists in teaching others to make piped butter cookies. Her next goal is learning to make honey gingerbread!
It takes a lot of time and effort to train people with disabilities, but Rita is glad to witness her team’s development. They have enhanced their work, self-care abilities and social skills, and gained greater self-confidence. “People with disabilities have their own strengths. Compared with people without disabilities, most of our staff are more patient and focused. For example, it takes a very precise amount of pressure and time to knead the dough into small balls, and the products made by our staff are sometimes therefore even better than those made by the trainers!”