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Initiative to train military veterans as refrigeration engineers

Leading from the front (left to right): Bruce Owens (director, infrastructure engineering, Smithfield Foods), Clarence Scott (talent acquisition specialist, Smithfield Foods), Lois Stirewalt (RETA); Jim Barron (RETA executive director); Troy Vandenberg (military talent acquisition manager, Smithfield Foods)

USA: Military veterans in the USA are being encouraged to train as refrigeration engineers in a special initiative between a leading industry association and a meat processor. 

RedWhiteandCool is a new initiative organised by the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA), representing industrial refrigeration engineers, and Virginia-based Smithfield Foods Inc. It is focused on recruiting, training and hiring transitioning military veterans into the growing and highly sustainable natural refrigeration industry as refrigeration technicians. 

“There is a shortage of skilled labor in our country and the commercial and natural refrigeration industry is not exempt from this employment deficit,” said Lois Stirewalt of RETA. “There are currently more than 40,000 jobs open nationally for refrigeration technicians. At the same time, many veterans remain unemployed once they transition to civilian live. RedWhiteandCool is taking action to address this very issue.”

The RedWhiteandCool programme will work hand in hand with the US Department of Defense and transitioning military personnel, family members and veterans to recruit them into the commercial refrigeration industry. The partnership is administered by RETA’s non-profit arm RETA-Training Institute (RETA-TI) in conjunction with the Department of Defense SkillBridge programme.

“At Smithfield Foods, supporting the men and women who have served our country is core to who we are as an American company,” said Keira Lombardo, executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance for Smithfield Foods and president of the Smithfield Foundation. “We owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans; this training and transition programme is just one way we demonstrate our appreciation. Partnering with RETA was a natural fit to help connect these veterans with skilled trade jobs at our company and in our industry.”

The first free four-week course will begin next month at Joint Base Langely-Eustis in Virginia. Participants will receive certification testing at the end of the programme and have the opportunity to interview for a career with Smithfield Foods as part of the company’s veteran hiring initiative.

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