What is SEED?
Southeastern Education and Economic Development (SEED) is an initiative of the NC Business Committee for Education, sponsored by Smithfield Foods. SEED is focused on growing the advanced manufacturing and agriculture workforce through work-based learning and apprenticeships. SEED will begin its focus with pathways in Industrial Systems and Mechatronics, two industries in high demand in southeastern North Carolina, and expand to include more career pathways each year.
This initiative will be aimed at middle school and high school students. For middle school, the focus will be career awareness, introducing students to the wide array of jobs in the agriculture and advanced manufacturing industry. In high school, real hands-on learning begins. SEED aims to create multiple youth apprenticeship pathways to a variety of careers. These programs allow students to learn and earn, by getting industry recognized credentials and a community college degree at no cost, while completing paid on-the-job training.
Why was SEED created?
Smithfield Foods saw a need in the agriculture and advanced manufacturing industry for more qualified, well-trained professionals in the workforce. So, they decided to lead the charge in growing their own talent pipeline, by offering this training to students through a youth apprenticeship program. The classroom credits from this program will be directly transferrable into Smithfield’s own registered apprenticeship program. However, youth apprentices are not limited to Smithfield, and can transfer to other registered apprenticeships or degree programs upon completion. Smithfield hopes to expand SEED over the years and invite more companies to join this initiative, offering more pathways for students to great careers while uplifting this impactful industry in southeast North Carolina.
Where is SEED?
SEED is currently launching in Wayne, Lenoir, Greene, and Jones counties, with plans to expand in upcoming years.
Who can join the SEED youth apprenticeship?
SEED will allow high school juniors and seniors to get involved in a youth apprenticeship program, opening the door to multiple career opportunities. Students must be 16 years of age to join the program.
Does SEED cost me anything?
SEED is a free program, but students must apply and be accepted into the program. SEED is committed to breaking down barriers to access by providing students with extra support through monthly stipends to aid in transportation costs, materials costs (safety equipment, uniforms, tools, etc.), and technology to support classroom instruction. SEED youth apprentices will receive a $175 monthly travel stipend, and a $175 monthly materials stipend to help alleviate some of the financial stress of the program. Students will have access to laptops and mobile hotspots through a designated technology cart at their local community college, which they can borrow to complete online coursework at home.
What paid on-the-job training does SEED offer?
SEED includes an 11-week summer internship. This is a paid opportunity that gives students the hands-on experience they need to develop their skills and determine if this is the right path for them. This experience will take place in the Smithfield’s rebuild shop in Kinston, giving students the opportunity to work on real machines under careful observation from trained professionals. Students will work 30 hours a week, for $15 an hour.
Will I get college credits?
This program will include dual enrollment at local community colleges, meaning students can graduate high school with up to 15 college credits, transferrable to a registered apprenticeship program or associate degree program. Dual enrollment courses are tuition free for NC high school students. See “How do I get free college tuition?” to learn more about the tuition waiver specifically for apprentices.
How do I get free college tuition?
Tuition waivers are available for high school students who enter a youth apprenticeship or apprenticeship program while they are still in high school. Registered youth apprentices have 120 days from the day they graduate to transition into an apprenticeship to remain eligible for the waiver. This benefit will continue for the length of the apprenticeship training term, providing a free certification or college degree to those who participate.
What sort of careers can SEED lead to?
Completion of the SEED youth apprenticeship program prepares you to enroll into an adult registered apprenticeship program. Not just at Smithfield Foods, but many other programs in advanced manufacturing and agriculture. Here are some examples of the careers this could lead to:
What is work-based learning?
Work-based learning refers to opportunities for students to engage in career awareness, career exploration, and career readiness experiences. These activities connect classroom learning with real-world learning, better preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow, today. Examples of these experiences include job shadowing, on-the-job training, opportunities to speak with industry professionals, and much more.
What is a youth apprenticeship?
A registered youth apprenticeship is an industry-driven education and career-training program based on recognized industry standards. It allows employers to address current and projected employment needs through partnerships with industry, education, and government partners along with parents and youth apprentices. Youth apprentices are often identified as individuals ages 16 through 24 who are eligible under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) for training and employment services.
How do I learn more?
Info sessions for students and parents will be held on February 1st and 8th. This will include a presentation of the program and its requirements, a chance to ask questions, and a plant tour, plus food will be provided. Students must attend one of these sessions in order to apply for the program.