DALLAS — At the Annual Meat Conference on March 6, attendees of one presentation heard various viewpoints on today’s labor challenges along with some possible solutions.

The panel for “Attracting and Retaining Your Workforce” included Tyler Holden, partner at Lippincott, Jess Feierabend, meat cutting and butchery instructor at the Central Lakes College in Minnesota, and Ernest Baskin, PhD, associate professor and director, Peck Fellowship at Saint Joseph’s University.

Feierabend discussed the development of a new meat-cutting program at Central Lakes College and how he shares his experience in the meat industry is useful as he trains people for meat industry jobs in Minnesota.

After starting at a butcher shop at age 14, Feierabend recently worked at Costco for a decade before taking on this new role.

“When the college put together a program of meat cutting, I jumped right on it,” Feierabend said. “Hopefully, it will give the industry more of a starting phase.”

When addressing the labor market in the meat processing and food industries, Holden discussed some key lessons from her firm, which included how employees are looking for career advancement opportunities and encouragement to focus on their professional development.

Baskin discussed recruitment strategies in the food industry, knowing that potential employees now have many job options.

Baskin cited one example of reaching out to non-governmental organizations that work with veterans and refugees as potential candidates to fill meat industry jobs.

“Are there people that can go out into these communities that serve as touch points with your organization so that they see that there are people like them that work in these organizations, so they feel like they’re going to be valued and that can do the work there,” Baskin said.

He also recommended using targeted advertising on social media platforms to promote job opportunities.

“Think about how you advertise your own brand,” Baskin said. “Recruiting your workforce is like advertising your own brand.”

Later he expressed the importance of hiring people with a company’s work culture in mind and sustaining a strong work culture to maintain the employees after they are trained in the meat industry.

Several attendees asked questions that applied to their own businesses. Some topics included job placement for students and how they get interested in meat cutting and the industry.

Feierabend and Baskin both referenced the Bearded Butchers YouTube channel and other videos as an effective way to connect with younger potential workers.

Another topic discussed by the members of the panel addressed employees’ perceptions and opinions of working on holidays, weekends and evenings.

Baskin stated that employees value predictability in their schedules and very clear expectations when taking on these shifts at a company.

More information about workforce trends can be found here on the FMI – The Food Industry Association website.