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Kayem Cooks Up Tasty Future by Training Work Force

Posted on June 12, 2012

Kayem Foods has cooked up a 102-year history every bit as iconic as the ballpark franks it makes for the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots.

Kayem.smallBut President and Chief Executive Officer Ralph O. Smith knows that the company’s future rests with creative and well-trained employees.

 “As customer requirements become more complex, organizations rely on employee innovation to meet or exceed expectations. We are committed to investing in our team’s growth,” says Smith, whose company used part of a $114,000 state Workforce Training Fund Program grant to create in partnership with AIM a leadership development course for employees.

Massachusetts Labor Secretary Joanne F. Goldstein visited the Kayem plant in Chelsea yesterday to recognize company executives and employees on the success of the training effort. She said the collaboration between Kayem and AIM underscores the value of the Workforce Training Fund in helping companies to maintain good-paying jobs in Massachusetts.

Kayem, a marketer and manufacturer of meats under multiple brand names since 1909, worked with AIM to tailor a 10-class employee-development curriculum consistent with the company’s objective to create “leaders instead of managers.” Fifty participants from across the company have so far learned how to manage change, appraise performance, build relationships, and identify and overcome problems.

Company representatives say leadership development is critical as Kayem invests heavily in complex new machinery and pursues stringent international food safety certifications. The grant will ultimately fund training for more than 400 employees.

“The collaboration between Kayem and AIM is an excellent example of the partnership we encourage via the Workforce Training Fund,” said Goldstein. “We are very excited to see so many workers benefit from this innovative training plan. It reminds us that the Patrick-Murray Administration is committed to keeping high-quality jobs in Massachusetts.”

Kayem also used the Workforce Training Fund to develop training in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in collaboration with Bunker Hill Community College. Team leaders and workers learned how to read production guides that they must use on the job. The ESOL training was unique in that it improved English proficiency and provided lessons in essential workplace terminology.

Richard C. Lord, President of AIM and Chair of the Workforce Training Fund Advisory Board, said Massachusetts employers should give the commonwealth’s flagship worker training program a second look now that lawmakers have placed the fund into a trust and removed it from the uncertainty of annual budgetary debates.

“Successful companies like Kayem Foods understand that skilled employees are the key to improving efficiency and productivity in the global economy. Employers capitalize the Workforce Training Fund through a surcharge on Unemployment Insurance taxes, so it makes sense for those same employers to use those funds to improve their businesses,” Lord said.

The Workforce Training Fund has provided $68.66 million to train approximately 90,000 Massachusetts workers at more than 2,750 companies since 2007. The program provides resources to Massachusetts businesses to train current and newly hired employees. Employers may apply for grants of up to $25,000 for technical assistance programs, or they may apply for grants of up to $250,000 for full training programs. Training programs may last up to two years.

Potential applicants may contact Bill Baldino at AIM (617.262.1180; for additional information and requirements.