Tyson Foods workers have new option for college education

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 759 views 

Tyson Foods is launching an in-plant educational and career development pilot program that provides workers with jobs skills training and workforce certifications beginning this year at no cost to workers.

Workers in Tyson’s Green Forest and Berryville plants are among the facilities in the initial pilot program. The Upward Pathways training opportunities in Arkansas are offered in partnership with North Arkansas College in Harrison. Other plants in the pilot include: Albertville, Ala., Portland, Ind., Finney, Kan., Dakota City, Neb., Goodlettsville, Tenn., Seguin, Texas, and Council Bluffs, Iowa. In each of the pilots Tyson is working with a community college to deliver the training program.

Tyson said the education program in conjunction with higher education is aimed at establishing a standardized promotional pathway for employees. Areas of focus for the curriculum include digital fluency, soft skills training such as time management and leadership skills.

“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 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.”

Tyson tapped Anson Green to lead the Upwards Pathways program. Green joined Tyson last year 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,” said Green.

Tyson said Upward Pathways compliment the Upward Academy program the company has offered for many years. The Upward Academy is in use in 59 Tyson plants and continues to grow as plant workers seek to complete high school diplomas, learn more English, acquire citizenship and improve digital and financial literacy.

The competitive labor market is a challenge for Tyson Foods and manufacturing in general. The pandemic has been a huge disruption but has not changed the need for a skilled production manufacturing labor force, said Mike Harvey, chief operating officer with the Northwest Arkansas Council.

“This seems like a more sound investment than perhaps spending to recruit people from elsewhere. Investing in workforce training instills loyalty, allows for planting more roots and it demonstrates a belief in employees that also allows for promoting from within the company ranks,” Harvey told Talk Business & Politics.

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