by Ronnie Estoque
On Thursday, Aug. 11, WeTrain Washington celebrated their Meatcutter Pre-Apprenticeship Program graduates at the South Seattle College Georgetown campus. Attendees enjoyed barbecued New York strip steaks at the event.
WeTrain Washington is a new training and education nonprofit affiliated with United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) 3000 and partnered union grocers. The UFCW 3000 provided seed money for program design and promotion. The pilot program was free for all the students, and graduates received a $200 stipend for completing and evaluating the five-week course. Several graduates from the program have landed jobs, and all received an interview preparation and resume workshop prior to commencement.
Dedric Vann has been in the food industry for 30 years since serving in the military. He works at a QFC and is preparing to train under the meat manager at his store.
“The staff, man, I give them credit. They blew it out of the water, so I recommend WeTrain to anybody,” Vann said. “I’m very grateful to be part of it, and plus, as part of a pilot program, I just made history.”
“WeTrain worked with longtime meatcutter apprenticeship coordinator Tim Phelan and instructor Greg Brooks to distill all the information that they would like new meatcutters to know coming into the shop on day one,” Evan Woods, executive director of WeTrain Washington, said. “Our goal was to give these students all of the knowledge and skills necessary to show up and hit the ground running as new apprentice meatcutters.”
Program graduates completed eight e-learning modules and quizzes, three homework assignments, a final exam, and an interview preparation workshop in addition to two in-person classes and a job fair. A total of 16 students graduated from the Snohomish County cohort and 18 from the King County cohort.
Woods added, “WeTrain Washington would like to include a digital literacy class and knife skills class in future updates to the program.” The organization has also created a Frontline Manager Leadership Development Program for grocery store managers and is looking to create a fishmonger apprenticeship program.
Maria Andrade is a graduate of the program and has been in the food industry for two years at Fred Meyer. “I really liked the experience that I had, because I learned a lot,” Andrade said. “They [Fred Meyer] opened a position for me.” Andrade, who started off in the Seafood Department at her store, will be officially transferring to the Meat Department. She is excited for her new position and how it will open more doors for growth in her career.
“I think this is going to help me to have my own business later on,” said Andrade. “That’s what I want to do.”
Ronnie Estoque is a South Seattle-based freelance photographer and videographer. You can keep up with his work by checking out his website.
📸 Featured Image: WeTrain Washington celebrated their meat cutting pre-apprenticeship graduates at the South Seattle College Georgetown campus in August 2022. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
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