Food processors face a management crisis that could have disastrous consequences for business. Today’s experienced managers will soon retire en masse, and companies will be hard pressed to replace that expertise. Furthermore, complex regulations such as the Food Safety Modernization Act are accelerating change, and new communications technologies such as social media raise the public relations risk factors that must be considered in every decision to avoid situations like the pink slime debacle.

Effective management today requires skilled leaders, supervisors and a rank and file who appreciate the need for systemic modifications and who understand the part they play in a holistic operation.

That’s why the Food Processing Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln created the Food Processing Management Certificate program, a series of self-paced online courses with content presented as pre-recorded video lectures, PowerPoint presentations and quizzes to test understanding/comprehension.

To earn the certificate, participants must complete three sequential modules, which cover food safety, quality control/assurance, employee safety, food processing operations, product development, growth strategies and human resources.

“The Food Processing Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has recognized our industry’s major management challenges,” says Gordon Smith, vice president at ConAgra Foods, Omaha, Neb., “and it has worked with industry input to provide a solution. Its online Food Processing Management Certificate Program will allow us to establish our next generation of supervisors and managers relatively easily.”   

The program is ideal for food processing plant workers, supervisors and managers, quality control and assurance personnel and government regulators.

“Companies need employees with a common knowledge base. If team members can’t speak the same language, how can they solve the problems that inevitably arise?” says professor Stephen Pharr, market research analyst at The Food Processing Center at UNL. “That’s one of the reasons we developed this program.”

The cost is $900 per module or $2,400 for the complete certificate program (three modules). Some states, such as California, offer tuition reimbursement through workforce development or labor department programs. Since the program is offered completely online, students can enroll from anywhere in the world and begin at any time.

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