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Smithfield Foods & Wayne Community College In Goldsboro, North Carolina Signs Third Cohort Of Maintenance Apprentices

Published Monday, October 4, 2021
by Ken Conners/The Goldsboro Daily News
Smithfield Foods & Wayne Community College In Goldsboro, North Carolina Signs Third Cohort Of Maintenance Apprentices

(GOLDSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA) - Smithfield Foods and Wayne Community College (WCC) accepted a third cohort of Maintenance Apprentices in a signing ceremony recently.

The new round adds 13 Apprentices to the 33 Apprentices in the two cohorts already in place.

The Maintenance Apprenticeship Program, which was launched in September 2019, is designed to develop the next generation of experienced professionals for Skilled Trades at Smithfield Foods.

It provides internal candidates, high school graduates and military veterans with hands-on engineering and mechanic training while they are working toward Journey Worker certificates and associate in Applied Science Degrees in Industrial Systems Technology.

Participants receive college tuition in addition to salary and benefits as they progress through the program.

Apprentices train alongside experienced Technicians at Smithfield Foods facilities in North Carolina and Virginia and study at WCC.

The first cohort should finish their degrees this Spring and the second cohort should complete the program in 2023.

The latest cohort is expected to graduate in 2024.

“It is a three- to four-year program because they only attend school part time,” explained WCC Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning Coordinator Kristie Sauls.

The Apprentices come to the campus one day a week for classes and complete some coursework on-line.

In total, WCC is serving around 50 Apprentices from various companies in its Industrial Systems Technology, Swine Management and Computer-Integrated Machining Programs.

“Apprenticeships allow individuals to learn while they earn, to get a paycheck and on-the-job training backed by traditional education,” Interim WCC President Patty Pfeiffer said. “They have the pride of moving from Apprentice to Journeyman and earning academic credentials up to and including an Associate Degree.”

Joel Miller, Senior Director of Engineering with Smithfield Foods, told the new apprentices: “We’ve about (40%) of our Technical Staff retirement-eligible in the next five to ten years.  We’ve got to develop people to take their place.  We want to do that while they’re still here so they have an opportunity to turn over their knowledge to you and you can learn it and step into their shoes.  You get the added plus of being able to go to school.  And after school, you have an Associate Degree which you can take to a four-year school and you would go in as a junior.  And you’ll have your Journey Worker Certificate.”

The Smithfield Foods Apprentices will accumulate industry-recognized certifications embedded in their courses as they work toward an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Industrial Systems Technology.

They also earn an Apprenticeship Completion Certificate from ApprenticeshipNC and a Journey Worker Certificate from the United States Department of Labor.

After Smithfield Foods established its Industrial Maintenance Technicians Apprenticeship Program with Wayne Community College, it used the college’s model to set up other programs in Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa.

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