There’s a new kid on the block in food industry certifications. This one isn’t for your equipment or your product. It’s for your people.

It’s no secret that technology is changing the food industry. At the same time, large numbers of manufacturing employees are at or nearing retirement age, and FSMA is sweeping the nation with a new emphasis on preventive controls.

At a 2015 summit on “Meeting the Workforce Needs of the Food Processing Industry,” New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced legislation that can address knowledge gaps and move larger numbers of young people onto the front lines of the new food industry. The bill offers tax credits for apprenticeship program expenses in an effort to lead a movement toward a new “Gold Collar” classification of highly skilled knowledge workers who are essential to business operations in the 21st century.

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Enter Food Industry Technician (FIT). FIT certification promises to forge “a unique partnership between industry and education” to prepare the next generation of food manufacturing professionals. The gaps this training must fill are many: Between electronic and mechanical technology, between industry and sustainability, and between older and younger generations of knowledge workers.

FIT certification can be achieved by a variety of educational and on-the-job training combinations. The program is sponsored by the Food Processing Educational Consortium (FPEC) and the Food Processing Suppliers Association (FPSA) and is recognized by leaders across the food manufacturing, processing, and packaging industries.

Students, current technicians, and employers are all invited to participate. Training is available through ITT technical institute, and FPSA membership is required for access to a current list of FIT-certified technicians.