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Workforce Success Story Submitted By:
Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Investment Board, Inc.

NEPA Food Processing Partnership

Workforce Challenge

The food processing industry in Northeastern Pennsylvania, as with the rest of the country, is experiencing transitional times related to technology innovations, workforce development, and food safety and security issues. As requirements change, employees in the industry must receive training to implement new procedures and maintain standards. Numerous industry, educational, and governmental reports indicate that addressing these industry concerns through collaborations at the national, state, and most importantly, the local level, is key to successful transformation and improved global competitiveness.

Workforce Solution

The Northeast PA Food Processing Industry Partnership, in collaboration with the Northeast Regional WIBs (Luzerne/Schuylkill, Lackawanna, Northern Tier, and Pocono), the PA CareerLinks ®, business & industry, workforce and economic development agencies and educational institutions developed a curriculum and funded “The Qualified Food Worker Certification Program” through their cash match/sustainability funding. The program is designed to strengthen the Food Processing sector in Northeast PA via a five-day training program for individuals interested in employment opportunities in the food processing industry. The certification program will generate a pipeline of new workers for entry level employment openings with self-sustaining wages in the Food Processing industry.

Qualified participants are selected through the PA CareerLink ® and registered on the Commonwealth Workforce Development System (CWDS). A high school diploma and some previous work experience are required in addition to good reading and math skills, and a strong understanding of the English language. Nineteen (19) dislocated workers participated in the program in 2010 and all were eligible for job interviews with five food processing companies.

Outcomes & Benefits

The NEPA Food Processing Industry Partnership strongly believes the certification program is beneficial to the industry and recommended that the training be placed on the PA State Training Provider list. This was accomplished in 2010. Participants, particularly dislocated workers may now receive financial assistance for this training through Workforce Investment Act resources.

Industry leader David L. Schultz, a Training Coordinator for Ateeco, Inc. / Mrs. T's Pierogies stated, “The Qualified Food Worker Certification program will enable interested persons to acquire the skills necessary to pursue a rewarding career in the food processing industry. Local companies struggling to fill openings will now have a pool of talented individuals with premium skills who are prepared for entry level positions, and those who complete the program will have a recognized certificate that will make them stand out against other job seekers.”

The NEPA Food Processing Industry Partnership plans to run the program again in March 2011.

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