DAKOTA CITY, Neb. – Northeast Community College is expanding its work with one of the world’s largest food companies to offer training opportunities for its employees at one of its facilities in northeast Nebraska.
Tyson Foods, Inc. is launching Upward Pathways, an in-plant career development program that provides frontline team members with job skills training and workforce certifications at no cost. The program will be piloted at ten of the company’s plant locations and is a partnership between Tyson, adult education providers and community colleges in eight states to establish a standardized promotional pathway for team members. Northeast will work with Tyson employees at the company’s Dakota City facility.
“Our team members are the most important part of our business, and we view it as our responsibility to provide opportunities to grow and thrive in their careers,” said John R. Tyson, chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods. “We’re excited to launch Upward Pathways as the next step from Upward Academy, which has seen tremendous success in providing resources to team members to help them take control of their own development and professional growth.”
Classes are currently available to workers at the company’s Council Bluffs, Ia., case-ready beef and pork facility and will be implemented at the remaining nine locations throughout 2021.
Completion of Upward Pathways curriculum will culminate in a Tyson-branded credential that recognizes the skills gained by team members and signals readiness for advancement within the company. Industry-recognized workforce certifications focusing on safety training and other core curriculum will also be offered. Additional areas of focus include digital fluency and soft skills training, such as time management and leadership skills.
Emily Duncan, director of Adult Education at Northeast Community College, said recruitment for the program will begin in March with classes set to begin in May.
“This program is focused on upskilling Tyson employees who are interested in moving into industrial maintenance, Duncan said. “The goal of our project in Dakota City is to create classes to upskill employees in technical reading and math and digital literacy. While attending these courses, students will also be obtaining their OSHA-10, Forklift, and CPR/First Aid certifications.”
Northeast will serve approximately 20 team members who enroll in the program at Tyson’s Dakota City facility. Selection of participants is based on requirements established by both Tyson and Northeast.
Duncan said she is hoping the project could lead to additional certification courses and training for team members who have a desire to move into other positions at the plant in order to address an ongoing need for additional hires in identified areas.
“Many team members who apply to be promoted from within the facility need additional educational training and skills in order to be successful in Tyson’s maintenance training program,” she said. “These team members often come from countries where they received very little education and lack applied math, literacy, and computer skills. By expanding the current partnership, Tyson and the Northeast Adult Education program believe we can address the challenges team members are experiencing when they seek advancement within the plant.”
Upward Pathways will be led by Anson Green, who joined Tyson Foods in 2020 after seven years serving as the state director for Adult Education and Literacy for the state of Texas.
“The goal of Upward Pathways is to identify and grow the untapped talent in our frontline workforce,” Green said. “The program represents a strategic effort to bolster career advancement efforts by maximizing the expertise, loyalty, and powerful diversity of our frontline workers. The approach leverages our community-based partnerships to deliver education, training and supportive services aimed at increasing the competitiveness of our team members for advancement opportunities.”
Upward Pathways complements the company’s Upward Academy program, which focuses on supporting and helping stabilize the lives of team members through the development of general life-skills such as English as a Second Language, citizenship, high school completion, digital and financial literacy. In 2019, Northeast began its work with Tyson through its Upward Academy program with employees in Dakota City and at its facility in Madison and continues to grow.
In addition to Dakota City and Council Bluffs, Tyson will operate Upward Pathway at its facilities in Albertville, Ala., Berryville, Ark., Green Forest, Ark., Portland, Ind., Finney, Kan., Omaha, Neb., Goodlettsville, Tenn., and Seguin, Tex.