Boot Camp Develops Workforce for Sweetest Jobs in the Shenandoah Valley

Date: August 28, 2019

For more than 30 years, The Hershey Company has been a forward-thinking leader among the Shenandoah Valley’s strong food and beverage industry. At their Augusta County facility, Hershey continues their commitment to innovation, recently announcing a $104 million expansion to establish a new Roasting Center of Excellence. The workforce needed to fill the 65 new jobs is being developed in part by the Hershey Boot Camp.

This unique approach serves as an innovative tool to increase the retention and quality of Hershey’s production line hires. Designed to fast-track individuals with high school diplomas or GEDs to an in-demand, high-wage career, the program also generates qualified applicants for Hershey’s Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) apprenticeship program.

The Boot Camp includes focused time in the classroom learning the basic tenets of the job, and hands-on training inside Hershey’s Augusta County facility. The first week is held at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center, and consists of training on manufacturing, safety, and regulatory requirements in a food manufacturing operation. Additional training focuses on what it means to be a registered apprentice, as well as ‘soft’ skills including teamwork, problem solving, and managing personal finances. Participants also receive an intensive orientation from Hershey employees on their working environment, expectations, and tips on how to achieve career success. Week two, conducted at the manufacturing facility, gives participants on-the-job training coached by Hershey trainers and supervisors.

Hershey developed the two-week paid training program based on specifications from line supervisors and Hershey Human Resources managers. With the goal of increasing new hire engagement, the Boot Camp emphasizes Hershey culture, performance expectations, and soft skills.The training, provided by Hershey, is supported through the Valley 2 Virginia (V2V) Registered Apprenticeship Grant awarded to the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration.

The pilot cohort took place in 2018 and was highly effective. Of the original 11 participants, seven were hired and retained. Six, including Kristen Wilson, are now registered as apprentices in the IMT program, and are highly valued Hershey employees with a vast and quickly growing portfolio of skills and experiences. Learn more about Kristen’s fast track to her Journeyman’s card by clicking here.

In June 2019, the second cohort took place and included 31 participants. After the classroom and hands-on portion, 30 individuals were retained, and after 3 months of work, 22 individuals have been retained by Hershey and are working toward the opportunity of registered apprenticeship in the IMT program.

The program, a collaboration of private-industry, workforce development partners, and regional training providers, has been overwhelmingly successful and serves as a sustainable tool Hershey can use for the future.

Article developed in partnership with the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board.

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