Federal and State Training Grant Awarded to Wayne-Sanderson Farms Enterprise Facility

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Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ Enterprise workforce recently received a $27,340 workforce development grant underwritten by the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Workforce Development Division in partnership with Alabama Technology Network.

Standing: L-R Christopher Rivera, Khristopher Smith, Tyler Allen, Yulisa Cochran, Tamara McAdams, Daniel Larson and Alex Rouse Sitting: L-R Brandon DeLoach, Tim Greenwood, and Cornelia Henderson

“This program really enhances our ability to develop our people while solving a skilled labor shortage at the same time," said Brad Williams, south Alabama area complex manager.

Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ Enterprise workforce recently received a $27,340 workforce development grant underwritten by the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Workforce Development Division. Signed by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, the grant provides advanced training for nearly 100 Wayne-Sanderson Farms team members, addressing company skilled labor needs while helping close the state’s workforce gap.

Focused on industrial safety and maintenance, the Enterprise training program is a reimbursable grant made available through the US Department of Education and the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). Part of the Education Stabilization Fund’s Reimagine Workforce initiative, the program provides employment and training for adults, dislocated workers and incumbent workers to create opportunities for residents and ensure a sustainable labor environment for Alabama.

Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ Enterprise, Dothan and Union Springs facilities produce nearly a billion pounds of high-quality chicken products in some of the most advanced poultry production facilities in the nation. With nearly $300 million invested in upgrades and expansions over the last five years, these state-of-the-industry plants feature packaging automation, robotic processing, cloud-based networks and other advancements demanding a much more advanced skill set than plant maintenance has traditionally required.

“Skilled maintenance positions are the most difficult to fill — there just aren’t enough people with the combination of skill sets we need to maintain a modern poultry plant,” said Patricia Powell, human resource manager for Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ Enterprise facility. Rather than depend on the traditional, time-consuming talent acquisition process in the hopes of finding qualified candidates, Powell and company officials decided to address the problem at its source by applying for grant funds to develop current team members with interest in training and advancement. Partnering with Enterprise State Community College and the industrial education experts at Alabama Technology Network, the company’s Enterprise team helped design curricula specifically addressing advanced industrial safety, including mechanical and electronics training.

Food industry project engineer, Amanda Rials, oversaw the project for the state’s technology network and noted the rationale behind the industry-government partnership. “Upskilling the workforce is our goal,” explained Rials, an industry expert with years of experience in the field. To accomplish this goal, Rials and team collaborated with Wayne-Sanderson Farms and local community college officials to design custom training that would be applicable on the plant floor or in the workplace.

Classroom education paired with on-the-job training utilizes realistic work settings and actual equipment augmented by mobile classrooms and equipment carts capable of transitioning directly into the plant for hands-on application. As part of the Alabama Community College system, the Alabama Technology Network can source expertise from around the state and beyond to provide specialized training for hazardous chemicals and regulated processes requiring state, federal or professional certification or credentials.

Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ South Alabama area complex manager, Brad Williams, noted the importance of the program for the regional workforce. “This program really enhances our ability to develop our people while solving a skilled labor shortage at the same time. By partnering with the state, we get access to resources and technical training we couldn’t get anywhere else,” said Williams, who plans to expand the program to Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ Union Springs operation as the plant prepares for significant upgrades. “We’ve had great success in Enterprise and Dothan, and the program’s portability will allow us to bring the same quality training to outlying facilities in the state like Union Springs.”.

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About Wayne-Sanderson Farms
Wayne-Sanderson Farms is an industry leader and the nation’s third-largest poultry producer, serving customers, consumers and communities with integrity, leadership and responsible farm, workplace and business practices. With a diverse portfolio of products, a strong operating culture, and an industry-leading workforce of more than 26,000 people, Wayne-Sanderson Farms owns and operates 23 fresh and further-processing facilities across Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas. Wayne-Sanderson Farms produces affordable, high-quality poultry products for retail, foodservice, restaurant, industrial and institutional segments under the brand names of WAYNE FARMS® fresh and prepared chicken; SANDERSON FARMS® fresh chicken; COVINGTON FARMS® fresh and frozen chicken; PLATINUM HARVEST® premium fresh chicken; CHEF’S CRAFT® gourmet chicken; and NAKED TRUTH® premium chicken. For more information visit our website at http://www.waynesandersonfarms.com

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Frank Singleton
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