New Grant from Walmart Creates Pipeline To Success

Published sep. 23, 2014

The Walmart Foundation has awarded a $3 million grant to Jobs for the Future to improve job training programs in the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics industry. The TDL workforce is a critical underpinning of the retail industry, providing much needed integrated warehousing and supply chain management solutions. Despite the reliance on this industry to link manufacturers and trading partners to wholesalers, retailers, and consumers, TDL is often one of the most overlooked occupational clusters in our nation's economic recovery. The Walmart Foundation is committed to helping people live better lives. For their communities, living better means greater access to opportunity.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that, over this decade, employment in transportation and warehousing will grow by 20 percent, or 856,000 jobs. In some areas, projected employment rates are even higher, with estimates ranging from an astounding 132 percent growth in Tennessee to Georgia, which anticipates a steady 5-10 percent increase over the national average. To address the opportunities of a high-growth industry, training and employment readiness programs must work smarter and engage a wider pool of potential workers. 

A key strategy of a successful TDL workforce pipeline is engaging underemployed and underrepresented adults, particularly women and younger workers. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, women currently comprise less than 15 percent of the TDL workforce and so have less opportunity to earn the family-supporting wages the industry can provide. With support from the Foundation, Jobs for the Future will award funding and provide technical assistance to leading-edge TDL training programs across the country. These programs receive funding to scale up their efforts to provide low- to middle-skilled workers with occupational training leading to industry-recognized credentials, as well as offer support and job placement services. In addition, JFF will provide targeted technical assistance to sites to increase the number of women in these traditionally male-dominated training programs.

The TDL industry is increasingly investing in innovative approaches and strategies that manifest in new technologies, such as advanced supply chain analytics systems. Community colleges and other technical training providers have historically provided training in the TDL industry, but there is evidence that existing efforts are not meeting the needs of the growing industry, which demands of its workforce higher content skills, more “soft skills” like problem solving and collaborating, and more credentials.

JFF and the Walmart Foundation believe that to ensure continuing economic recovery, it is critical that states and regions meet this demand with a supply of skilled workers that can perform the tasks and responsibilities required by employers immediately upon being hired. To remedy this problem, JFF will leverage its deep career pathways and sector strategy experience to train 3,000 workers for entry-level and middle-skill TDL occupations across the country, with a particular emphasis on the retail industry and its supply chain. In particular, our work will emphasize and strengthen engagement of TDL employers in pathway development, which will:

  • Increase employer awareness and investment in alternative talent pipelines for the sector, including expanding the number of nontraditional workers
  • Leverage the work of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions to demonstrate to TDL employers the benefits of investing in their workforce
  • Assist selected sites to build strong pathways and career ladders within the TDL sector leading to middle skill jobs that feature employer-verified stackable credentials.

Further, JFF will engage local Walmart transportation and logistics staff to provide critical input into program design features to ensure training programs are delivering necessary and relevant skills and knowledge, thereby strengthening alignment between TDL pathways and industry skill needs. Working directly with local workforce development programs, JFF is excited to provide on-the-ground support for the development of a workforce pipeline that will provide middle-skill jobs and assist the growing TDL industry. Stay tuned for updates on sites selection in early 2015.