Two Dallas-based organizations—READYTOWORK and Aspire—have formed a nonprofit/for-profit collaboration to build a robust workforce for the fast-growing logistics sector in Texas.
READYTOWORK, an affiliate of On-Target Supplies & Logistics (OTSL), is a workforce training and development organization that specializes in certifications for the logistics industry. It also offers workforce development services, college and post-secondary counseling services, and literacy training across Texas.
Since 2015, READYTOWORK has trained more than 3,000 people, with 2,000 receiving industry certifications and 34 percent of participants going on to earn a job. Five percent reported earning a raise.
“People living in underserved communities impacted by blight and poverty may not know how to access the training and services they need to improve their employability,” Lorene Smith, president of READYTOWORK, said. Founded in 2006 to create a pipeline of qualified job candidates for the logistics industry, READYTOWORK today works to provide positions that pay an average of $15-20, which require certification.
In partnering with Aspire, a nonprofit literacy and career learning organization, READYTOWORK aims to move more Texans into living wage jobs—ultimately addressing the current labor shortage across additional industries.
“Literacy and life-long learning are key to addressing inequity in our communities,” Dr. Linda K. Johnson, president and CEO of Aspire, said in a statement. “By partnering with READYTOWORK, Aspire offers specific skills training to prepare people for high-growth fields and provides them with access to readily available jobs that pay living wages, leading to more financial stability and better lives for their families.”
Johnson has been known as a champion for READYTOWORK since day one.
READYTOWORK and Aspire first partnered in 2019 on the Workplace Industrial Training program. Since, the two have delivered monthly training, and collaborated on how READYTOWORK can best service Aspire and its constituents.
The new program will provide free hands-on training and certification classes to unemployed and underemployed Texans. Each four-day installment will consist of classroom instruction on workplace safety in industrial environments followed by equipment instruction.
Upcoming participants will learn how to operate forklift technology according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Upon completion, graduates will earn a forklift operating certification—valid for three years—that qualifies them for jobs at applicable companies, like OTSL.
“Too many employers sit passively and wonder why qualified workers aren’t applying for jobs,” Tré Black, OTSL president, said in a statement. “As an industry, we should create pathways for more people in our communities to access living-wage jobs. This training program is a model for how for-profit and non-profit collaboration benefits communities, businesses, and the U.S. economy.”
Boosting women across Texas
Coordinating with Women’s Equality Day on Aug. 26, READYTOWORK and Aspire are putting out a call-to-action to encourage women to participate in the upcoming program.
To date, women have made up more than 40 percent of training participants. READYTOWORK sees an opportunity to continue welcoming female workers into the burgeoning logistics industry.
It’s a timely announcement: During the COVID-19 pandemic, some 4 million women left the workforce. Many are considering returning to low-wage service and hospitality jobs as federal unemployment benefits comes to an end in certain states.
Since February 2020, READYTOWORK notes that transportation and logistics job postings on LinkedIn have risen nearly 120 percent. And, with President Biden’s infrastructure bill, more jobs could be created across the supply chain.
READYTOWORK said it hopes the collaborative model with Aspire will be replicated by other supply chain companies to assist more women in securing living wage jobs.
Latoya Ellzey, for instance, said the program has already put her on track for a career in supply chain and logistics. Ellzey credits READYTOWORK with developing her into a highly skilled motivated professional, while deploying her the confidence needed to flourish in a competitive work environment.
She says upon completion of the program, her life has already been “forever changed.”
“I would have to say my biggest obstacle in the workforce was getting people to see me as the hardworking, knowledgeable person that I am and not just a woman,” she says. “I never let anything stop me from completing any task. There is always a way to get the job done. You must be committed to doing just that.”
Registration is now open for August and September classes and can be found on the Aspire website.
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