In the heart of the Magic Valley, Jerome is home to Idaho Milk Products, a large-scale factory billowing steam with plenty of pickup trucks in the employee parking lot. But behind the factory’s facade is a diverse company looking for local talent in accounting, finance, sales, marketing and engineering.
“The biggest problem is that people look at these factories and they think this is where they are milking,” said Steven Christiansen, vice-president of human resources and organizational development. “They don’t realize that every one of these companies is a microcosm of a normal university or company.”
Idaho Milk Products actively courts local students with an outreach program that starts with being an industry partner for high school career technical programs, summer apprentices and college internships. The company started 15 years ago and employs 225 workers.
“We want to be the preferred employer for those kids that are suited to work in our industry,” Christiansen said. With a shortage in maintenance, electrical, utilities and mechanics, companies like Idaho Milk Products are developing their own workforce, and increasingly relying on high schools to create an interest in the trades.
“So if I can get that person that says ‘Hey, I want to go to that career tech program in the high school to learn sanitary welding, I can immediately go find a job in a very, very profitable profession,’” Christiansen said.
Data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report.