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JBS offers scholarships for new program at MN West

WORTHINGTON — JBS will be awarding up to $135,000 in scholarships to students pursuing a degree in industrial technology in Minnesota West Community and Technical College’s newly accredited one-year program.

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Courses for the industrial maintenance technology program will start in September for the upcoming fall semester at Minnesota West. The school will host an open house information session for interested students from 10:30 a.m. to noon and 2:30 to 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Worthington campus.

Awardees of the JBS scholarship will have two options — a full scholarship of $9,000 for the one-year program, or a half scholarship of $4,500 for the program. The full scholarship will require a commitment to work for JBS for four years as a maintenance technician after completing the program. The $4,500 scholarship will require a two-year commitment.

“JBS was the catalyst to Minnesota West starting the program,” said Amber Luinenburg, Coordinator of Communications, Marketing and Advertising for Minnesota West. “We have been doing continuing education courses for their employees for the last year, and we (Minnesota West) and JBS see an employment demand in the area for industrial technology, and therefore have designed the program as a diploma and A.A.S. degree.”

There will be three avenues to study industrial technology at Minnesota West — a certificate program of 26 credits, a diploma program of 44 credits and an A.A.S. degree program of 60 credits that includes 16 general education credits. The diploma program is the minimum needed to work at JBS and will be a short one-year program.

In order to be considered for the scholarship, students must be able to pass a basic mechanical aptitude exam in English. Along with the application, applicants must submit their high school transcript, work history (if applicable) and two letters of recommendation. JBS will interview the top candidates and choose the best-qualified applicants as the scholarship recipients.

“In my 16 years in human resources, I’ve seen how hiring qualified maintenance employees has become increasingly difficult year after year,” said Jenny Andersen-Martinez, JBS Human Resources Director. “This is a problem that’s not isolated to our industry or region. There is a nationwide shortage of people working in the skilled trades, and the shortage is only being exacerbated by the large numbers of baby boomers who are now retiring from these fields.”

Andersen-Martinez explained that when conventional recruiting wasn’t getting JBS the needed applicants, the company decided to reach out to Minnesota West to see if the college would be interested in creating a program to develop the skills JBS needs in a maintenance technician.

“I discussed the idea with Dr. (former Minnesota West President Richard) Shrubb after he had a chance to tour our facility,” Andersen-Martinez said. “I think he was surprised and impressed at the high levels of technology and automation in our plant, and agreed to a follow-up meeting to discuss possibilities.”

In the follow-up meeting, training possibilities and options for both incumbent mechanics and curriculum for aspiring maintenance professionals were discussed.

“From the very beginning, Minnesota West understood our needs and concerns,” Andersen-Martinez said. “We proposed a degree program, and the concern was whether we would get the enrollment numbers needed.

“To address that concern, JBS offered to basically guarantee the enrollment of the first year through scholarships,” she added. “After we jumped the financial hurdle, we were off and running.”

The program currently is geared toward college students. However, JBS brought the idea of the degree program to District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard and Worthington High School (WHS) Principal Paul Karelis.

“There (are) still some details that need to be worked out before we can implement the program at the high school,” Landgaard said.

The eventual goal is to provide high school students with the opportunity to attain the certification by second semester this upcoming school year.

“We’re trying to be a collaborative partner to help create opportunities for our kids and to help our businesses grow and succeed,” Landgaard said.

The deadline for the application is July 18. Interviews of the top candidates will be conducted in August, and the Industrial Maintenance Program is scheduled to begin in September with up to 16 students. For more information regarding the scholarships or the application form, call 372-3472.

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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