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April 17, 2024 4:52 am

Wayne Community College, Smithfield Foods receive award

GOLDSBORO – Wayne Community College and Smithfield Foods have been awarded a 2024 Workforce Development Pinnacle Award in the Apprenticeship Champion category by the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges.

The inaugural Pinnacle Awards recognize exemplary employers, businesses, or industry groups that have demonstrated extraordinary engagement and firm commitment to the education and professional development of its employees and/or to the development of NC’s workforce through its partnership efforts with one or more of the state’s 58 community colleges.

The Apprenticeship Champion award recipients demonstrated commitment to providing structured and meaningful apprenticeship experiences with creative approaches that go beyond traditional roles and responsibilities.

“Business and industry partnerships are integral to meeting the workforce needs of the present day and the future. Smithfield Foods partnering with Wayne Community College is a prime example of a true partnership working together to meet those needs,” said WCC President Patty Pfeiffer.

The apprenticeship model developed and implemented by WCC and Smithfield Foods in 2019 has been replicated at other Smithfield Foods production facilities nationwide. According to WCC Executive Director of Apprenticeships and Career Development Kristie Sauls, there are over 100 Smithfield Foods maintenance apprentices at various community colleges in six states.

“Wayne Community College is honored to partner with Smithfield Foods because we are truly changing lives together,” said Sauls. “We are always collaborating to improve the program and bring more students into it.”

The first cohort of seven maintenance technicians graduated in the spring of 2023, and the sixth cohort will begin in the fall of 2024. Graduates of the apprenticeship program with Smithfield Foods earn a journeyman certificate from ApprenticeshipNC and the US Department of Labor, along with an Associate in Applied Science in Industrial Systems Technology degree.

“I am thankful that Smithfield Foods put their trust and faith in Wayne Community College to develop an apprenticeship model that will have a lasting impact on their business, as well as others, for years to come,” Pfeiffer said.

The award will be presented during the 2024 North Carolina Community Colleges Awards Dinner and Celebration on Apr. 17.