By: Haley Pierce, Manager, FMI Foundation
Do you ever wonder where the next generation of food industry workers will come from? With my collegiate studies in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources, I think about workforce issues a lot—how future generations will disrupt industries, what innovative technologies will be introduced in my lifetime, where individuals will work and live, and how we best introduce and excite younger workers about the multitude of career opportunities available within the food industry.
As truck drivers, stockers, food safety auditors, store managers, manufacturing line workers, warehouse supervisors, brand managers and industry relations professionals, how are we giving back to the communities we serve? How does the next generation learn from us?
These are difficult quandaries for any one organization to address, which is why the FMI Foundation and Junior Achievement USA have partnered with food retailers Publix and SpartanNash on the workforce initiative Inspiring Careers in Food. These organizations' pilot projects were immensely helpful in gauging the needs of a modern workplace and connecting the dots between students and young career professionals and established food industry workers.
The Inspiring Careers in Food workforce initiative is comprised of several educational experiences:
- For younger students from grades 4-6:
- JA BizTown, which allows students to run their own storefronts and understand the different work tasks associated with operating a business. Students can bridge the gap between what they learn in school and what they learn in the real world.
- For K-12 students:
- JA Career Speaker Series, which allows food industry workers to speak to their experiences within their workplaces, including exploring career paths, day-to-day work, and educational experience.
- For older students from grades 7-12:
- JA Finance Park, which is Junior Achievement's capstone program for personal financial planning and career exploration. Students visit JA Finance Park, a realistic on-site or virtual community, to put what they've learned about finance or budgeting into practice. Volunteers guide students through their decision-making processes.
- For older students from grades 6-12:
- JA Inspire, which is an in-person and virtual experience that is more than just a career fair. This program brings together the business community and local schools and is designed to help launch students into their future careers: after high school, college, and beyond. Students attend webinars or presentations, explore career booths, and interact with pre-selected career speakers.
Currently, Junior Achievement USA and the FMI Foundation are reviewing these educational programs to ensure that they are in line with industry needs. In 2024, we expect to launch the Inspiring Careers in Food initiative more widely to FMI members. Our web experience will include information and a survey to assess individual and organizational interest and involvement.
Get involved with the initiative when it launches or contact us at InspiringCareersinFood@fmi.org. We're excited to recommend individual and organizational opportunities for you or your company to participate in.