Monsanto has created a new apprenticeship program to expand the ranks of those qualified to work at the company’s Soda Springs plant. Combining both Idaho State University (ISU) College of Technology training resources with hands-on job experience, the program will provide candidates with the knowledge, skills and work experience needed to be safe and succeed as an entry-level technician in phosphorus manufacturing.
Over the sixty year history of Monsanto in Soda Springs, the plant has hired hundreds of technicians primarily based on pre-existing skill-level and work experience. Increasingly sophisticated equipment, specialized work requirements, coupled with growing competition for these jobs, has raised the bar for finding individuals with relevant skill sets and experience. Monsanto is committed to ensuring such hurdles do not become an impediment to recruiting and hiring a diverse workforce.
“We recognize that hiring only those with pre-existing experience in the needed skill areas may be limiting entry for some potentially excellent employees,” noted Sheldon Alver, plant manager. “The solution, therefore, is to create an on-ramp that will train a diverse pool of individuals who merely lack a specific work experience or mix of skills.”
The one-year program, known as the Monsanto Apprenticeship Program for Soda Springs (or MAPSS), will include basic training in workplace safety, job shadowing, course instruction in equipment operation and maintenance, including welding, and on-the-job training. All instruction will be provided free-of-charge to students, who will also be paid an hourly wage for participating in the program.
According to Alver, the curriculum has been designed “to expose trainees to the full breadth and depth of career opportunities at Monsanto.”
“We have shared the concept with a number of neighboring industries,” explained Jay Seedall, Human Resources Lead at the Monsanto Soda Springs Plant. “Idaho State University and the Idaho Department of Labor have also assisted in its development. Those involved are quite proud of how the program has taken shape, and consider this approach to be an emerging ‘best practice’.” Dave Treasure, Chair of ISU’s Trade and Industrial Department adds, ““ISU's College of Technology works with industry partners like Monsanto to provide apprentice training for new employees, skill upgrades to current employees, and introduce emerging technologies across a broad spectrum to the workforce.”
The MAPSS program is currently slated to begin in January of 2013. More information and application procedures will be advertised later in 2012, along with a schedule of outreach seminars for potential applicants to be conducted jointly with the Idaho Department of Labor.