Smithfield Foods has launched a new apprenticeship program aimed at developing the next generation of experienced professionals for valuable skilled trades. The program provides internal candidates, high school graduates and military veterans with hands-on engineering and mechanic training while earning their associate degree. Program participants receive free college tuition, salary and benefits as they progress through the program.
“The workforce is changing rapidly, and we understand the importance of preparing the next generation of manufacturing professionals with an adaptable and diverse skillset,” says Lisa Swaney, chief human resources officer for Smithfield Foods. “Our new apprenticeship program provides a unique opportunity for emerging talent to develop a strong understanding of the field and, ultimately, a long and prosperous career with Smithfield.”
Smithfield launched the apprenticeship program at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro, N.C., and plans to expand the initiative nationwide by partnering with colleges near Smithfield facilities. The program represents Smithfield’s continued commitment to recruiting top talent and providing fulfilling careers for its employees.
“With increasing automatization, both physical and digital, it is more critical than ever to have a workforce with the right skills,” says Howard Anderson, chief engineer for Smithfield Foods. “This apprenticeship program will be a key source of new talent for our organization.”
Apprentices will train alongside experienced technicians at Smithfield’s facilities in Clinton, Kinston, and Wilson, N.C. In addition to Wayne Community College, Smithfield also partnered with NCWorks, a resource for job seekers and employers in North Carolina, and ApprenticeshipNC, a platform that enables businesses to create flexible and effective training and hiring solutions.
“This program is a great example of how industry and education, when working together, develop a workforce,” says Craig Foucht, executive director of Wayne Business and Industry Center for Wayne Community College. “Through this apprenticeship program, individuals will learn theory in the classroom and practical application on the job. This is one of the best models for learning and will help develop a pipeline of qualified individuals for our partner.”
To celebrate the program’s kickoff, Smithfield and Wayne Community College held a Signing Day event Friday, where students accepted their apprenticeship positions. Smithfield is also working with Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Neb., to launch the apprenticeship program there next year. To learn more about Smithfield’s careers, visit smithfieldfoods.com/careers.