Smithfield Foods announces RedWhiteandCool program to hire vets
The agriculture giant partners with the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association.
Smithfield Foods Inc. and the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA) on Tuesday announced RedWhiteandCool — an initiative to recruit, train and hire transitioning military veterans into the refrigeration industry as refrigeration technicians. Smithfield Foods is a founding sponsor of the program.
“There is a shortage of skilled labor in our country and the commercial and natural refrigeration industry is not exempt from this employment deficit,” RETA spokesperson Lois Stirewalt said in a statement. “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 life. RedWhiteandCool is taking action to address this very issue.”
RedWhiteandCool will be administered by RETA’s nonprofit arm, RETA-Training Institute (RETA-TI), and the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge Program, which also connects service members to civilian work.
Transitioning military veterans met on Monday with RedWhiteandCool program staff during an information session about the program and refrigeration industry. Veterans were notified of the session through the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program, the Transition Assistance Program (TAPS) and the Virginia Employment Commission.
The program consists of a free four-week course to begin March 23 at the Joint Base Langley–Eustis, a joint base of the U.S. Air Force’s Langley Air Force Base and the U.S. Army’s Fort Eustis Base, located approximately 10 miles from Newport News. RETA-certified instructors will provide the classroom training and participants will visit a Smithfield facility for real-life experience of topics covered during training.
The four-week training culminates with Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator (CARO) training and certification. The CARO certification comes after an entry-level examination used to identify whether an operator can function safely in an engine room under supervision.
At the end of the program, participants will receive certification testing and will be able to interview for a career with Smithfield Foods, which is a Virginia Values Veterans (V3) company. The V3 program requires employers to commit to hiring a certain number of veterans based on company size. Certification involves training in recruiting, hiring and retaining vets. The program was established in 2012, and Virginia companies have since hired more than 33,000 veterans. V3 companies can qualify for up to $10,000 in grants, with $1,000 being awarded per eligible veteran hired.
The cost of the program has not been disclosed, but Smithfield’s contribution makes the program free for participating veterans.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans; this training and transition program is just one way we demonstrate our appreciation,” Keira Lombardo, executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance for Smithfield Foods and president of the Smithfield Foundation, said in a statement. “Partnering with RETA was a natural fit to help connect these veterans with skilled trade jobs at our company and in our industry.”
RETA was founded in 1910 and is based in Albany, Oregon. The nonprofit focuses on professional development in the industrial refrigeration industry.
Based in Smithfield, agriculture giant Smithfield Foods was founded in 1936 and employs more than 40,000 people in the U.S.