— Center for Growing Talent’s (CGT) Career Pathways programs will reach its 1,000th student participant milestone at Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s (CPMA) Annual Convention & Trade Show April 24-26. Career Pathways has been a resoundingly successful recruiting tool to attract top university students to industry careers since the programs began in 2004, the brainchild of industry leader Jay Pack working with then-PMA CEO Bryan Silbermann.
CGT will host 10 Career Pathways student attraction programs this year at industry events in the United States and around the world. CGT provides scholarships to bring students and their professors to these events, where they are oriented to the industry and career opportunities in it. The students then take in the event with guidance from a Career Ambassador, a volunteer who works in the industry.
Career Pathways success has been impressive: Since the first program was held at PMA’s Fresh Summit in 2004, 67 percent of participating students have gone on to take jobs or internships in industry, and 78 percent of them remain in the industry today.
“To bring those statistics to life, this program has had a very real positive impact on our industry,” said Leonard Batti, chair of CGT’s Board of Directors and vice president of Taylor Farms. “What started as Jay Pack’s visionary idea for attracting students to careers in our industry has grown to a global scale, with remarkable metrics of success.”
At this year’s Career Pathways program at CPMA’s premier industry event, 16 students deemed the best and the brightest by their professors from four universities will travel to CPMA’s Convention & Trade Show Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Participating universities are Dalhousie University, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, McGill University and University of Guelph.
“We welcome warmly these Career Pathways students to Vancouver, and congratulate Center for Growing Talent for reaching its 1,000th student milestone here with us,” said CPMA President Ron Lemaire. “CPMA shares that passion for finding and mentoring our industry’s future talent.” CPMA’s annual Passion for Produce program helps young professionals who are rising stars in the Canadian industry to accelerate their professional development.
Career Pathways history
The original Career Pathways program, held at PMA’s Fresh Summit in 2004, started with industry executive and philanthropist Jay Pack. Having recently sold his successful produce business, Pack was looking for a way to give back to the industry. After conversations with Silbermann, the concept of Career Pathways was born. The Career Pathways program at Fresh Summit remains the largest Career Pathways program each year.
“Career Pathways got started over a conversation between Bryan and myself, we talked about giving back to the industry, and the need to bring talent into the industry,” Pack says in a CGT video. “As the program evolved and grew, everybody became more committed and more passionate. It was like a snowball… it never ceased to amaze me, the excitement and the level of interest these students [showed].”
“Career Pathways is a shining example of what’s possible when our industry collaborates,” said Silbermann, the namesake of PMA’s new Bryan E. Silbermann Collaboration Award. “It took a village to bring Career Pathways to life, and now in turn it is sparking our industry’s next generation of leaders.”
In addition to acknowledging Pack’s original vision, CGT also notes the many volunteers who make Career Pathways possible. “It has taken hundreds of volunteers to make Career Pathways such a success over the years,” said CGT Chair Batti. “We want to take this opportunity to thank all of those leaders, from our class instructors to the Career Ambassadors who have guided these students so well on to careers in our industry.”
In 2005 PMA Foundation for Industry Talent was founded – now Center for Growing Talent – with the mission to help our industry to attract, develop and retain talent. Today, CGT offers leadership development for industry employees at every stage of their careers, from young professionals to senior executives and women. In its second decade, CGT is defining its offerings to help industry retain top talent. The charitable organization’s work is made possible by generous donations from visionary industry leaders.
“Talent is one of the single biggest issues and opportunities facing our industry today. Center for Growing Talent exists solely and specifically to help our industry minimize those issues and maximize those opportunities,” said Margi Prueitt, CGT executive director and PMA senior vice president.
For more information about Career Pathways and Center for Growing Talent, visit www.CenterforGrowingTalent.org
About Center for Growing Talent
Center for Growing Talent (CGT) was created in 2005 by the produce and floral industry to provide industry-specific solutions to attract, develop and retain the talent needed to feed our industry’s growth. CGT offerings provide a breadth of resources and programs for companies – regardless of their place in the supply chain or their size. As a tax-exempt charitable organization, CGT invests contributions made by visionary leaders to grow people across our industry. For more information, visit www.CenterforGrowingTalent.org.