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Growing a Workforce: Hormel Partners with Riverland to Fill Jobs

January 05, 2017 07:21 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- It's long been a field where there are more jobs than workers to fill them. But there’s a new way to meet the need: when supply and demand don’t add up, grow your own.

"Industry comes to us and says we need maintenance people, and how can we work together," said Bob Bender, mechanical instructor at Riverland Community College in Albert Lea.

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And that’s exactly what happened when Austin-based Hormel Foods experienced a shortage of qualified applicants in the area of industrial maintenance.

"We try to get students ready to do the repairs out in the industry," instructor Bob Bender explained.

“Milling, machining, welding, boilers, a little bit of everything," added student Brad Hacker.

So Hormel developed a new program, offering its current production employees a chance to learn industrial maintenance ... while picking up the tab.

"Industry is saying we're going to pay for your education, plus pay you a salary, and this is where that partnership comes," mechanical instructor Bob bender told ABC 6 News.

Twenty-five Hormel employees showed interest, and five were selected.

"We're on a weekly basis communicating, tracking that the student's doing things, that they're here on time," instructor Bob Bender explained.

"What I like about this program, it's a lot of hands-on, in the shop, not sitting in a classroom, working on machines, fixing things," said student Brad Hacker. He’s not one of the Hormel employees, but he is about to complete the two year industrial maintenance program and hit the job market.

"The job demand for maintenance mechanics, electricians is very high. We see postings all the time."

And as far as partnerships like the one between Hormel and Riverland: "I think this is going to be a trend," said Riverland instructor Bob Bender.


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Dan Conradt

Copyright 2017 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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