Let's put our worries about the current economic environment aside for a moment and give some thought to the day when business starts to pick up. On the bright side, we can look forward to rising sales, a stock market rally, and a surge in freight volume. But there will be a downside as well. For one thing, a problem that's been on temporary hold during the economic slump is sure to re-emerge: a shortage of people to fill critical jobs in logistics.
Finding workers for distribution centers, truck terminals, and even corporate logistics departments has been a long-standing challenge for this sector. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is a lack of awareness—logistics is hardly front of mind in mainstream America. Another is a perceived shortage of programs to prepare and train young people for jobs in material handling.
But there are signs things are starting to change. For instance, in April, the Material Handling Education Foundation Inc. (MHEFI) took an important step toward attracting young workers to the field when it dedicated the Don Frazier Material Handling Technical Training Program in Rock Hill, S.C. As a news story in last month's issue of DC VELOCITY noted, this pilot program is designed to provide entry-level material handling education for high school, technical school, and community college students. MHEFI says the students will gain practical skills and experience in state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution training centers across the nation.
And in a story on page 18 of this issue, Managing Editor Toby Gooley writes about a program under way in North Carolina that will also expand training opportunities in this sector. As part of an initiative to make the Piedmont Triad region a major international logistics hub, a local economic development agency—the Piedmont Triad Partnership—is opening a center for logistics workforce development. Called the Center for Global Logistics, the facility will offer courses, seminars, technical training, and other educational opportunities from colleges and universities in the Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point area. An education taskforce has already begun to reach out to local schools, from the elementary through high school levels, to introduce the logistics profession to educators and students.
It's not just students who are being targeted by logistics training programs. In June, Circumference America Inc. (CAI), a disabled veteran-owned small business, announced it was launching a logistics job training program for active military. Called Move Vets, the program will offer ongoing Web-based classes for active military and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Beginning in September, CAI will offer introductory courses in third-party logistics; truckload, less-than-truckload, ocean, and air freight; supply chain management; shipper relations; and logistics software. Also on the docket is "Trucking 101," according to CAI, which is a non-asset-based transportation holding company whose operating affiliates provide truckload, expedited, intermodal, ocean, and air transportation services.
CAI is offering the program at no cost. Although there are no job guarantees, students who complete the program may be eligible for internships at one of CAI's companies. Graduates will also have access to free job postings and résumé search services. "The mission of Move Vets is to provide jobs and job training for exciting careers in the logistics industry to our nation's active military and veterans who have sacrificed so much in their lives to protect ours," said Mike Steele, president and CEO of Circumference America, in a prepared statement. "We salute you, we thank you, and we are here to serve you." Hear, hear, Mr. Steele.