This fall pork producers will have a new educational program to further their swine education and a professional swine improvement program to advance their careers, offered jointly by the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence (USPEC) in conjunction with the National Pork Board.

The schooling program, known as the Professional Swine Manager Education Program (PSM), is designed to develop an online community college curriculum for pork production courses.

“This program is a curriculum, a series of courses designed for people to learn how to excel in managing pork production units,” says Jim Lummus, manager of Producer Learning and Performance for the National Pork Board.

PSM curriculum will include classroom sessions delivered via Internet by community college instructors all over the United States experienced in pork production. On-farm application of learning involving senior management will also be part of the program.

Lummus and Maggie DenBeste, education project coordinator of USPCE, agree that the fledgling program increases the potential for employment and helps address the need for an educated workforce in the pork industry.

“Completing the curriculum will help participants find employment and advancement opportunities in pork production, as well as aid in passing the certification exams to become a certified swine manager,” Lummus says. “And it’s a win for the pork industry, with more skilled, trained individuals in the workforce pool.”

The cost of each course varies from approximately $156/credit hour to $204/credit hour and is set by the community college.

A related but separate endeavor, the Pork Checkoff’s Certified Swine Manager Program is a certification program designed to provide proof that an individual has applied what they have learned to excel in managing pork production units, Lummus says. Certification validates knowledge gained and work accomplished.

Lummus explains that in order to become a certified swine manager, the individual will be required to pass both a test and an in-barn evaluation to show their competence in all phases of pork production. Resources and materials will be available to help prepare for certification exams.

The assessments will cover knowledge, skills and abilities of employees in the areas of personnel management, breeding and gestation, farrowing and wean-to-finish.

“The PSM education program and the Certified Swine Manager certification program are two distinctly different but linked efforts,” Lummus explains. “One is an education program, while the other is a certification program. One teaches, the other documents application of what one has learned.”

“Both programs are examples of U.S. pork producer efforts to create programs and resources to continuously improve animal care and business performance by developing a professional workforce,” he adds.

For more details on both programs, call USPCE at (515) 294-5231 or the Pork Checkoff at (800) 456-7675.