During the pandemic, there was a need for the transportation and logistics industry to step up in a big way, and the businesses within the industry met that need with flying – and driving – colors. It may have been the increase in demand for telemedicine, office supplies or simply the bright moment when the delivery driver dropped off an anticipated package, many of us became acutely aware of just how essential the industry is to our lives.
Still, there is more work to do to strengthen and empower the industry, and the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and its Talent and Workforce team is working to support that mission.
In November 2020, the Toledo Chamber organized the transportation and logistics industry sector partnership. Leaders from the industry came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the industry, share best practices, and find common ground. Interim President of Owens Community College Dr. William Balzer led the meeting, and together leaders established priorities to transform the workforce development of the industry.
“I’m excited to help bring logistics to the forefront,” said Dan Nester, CEO and President of Polaris Logistics Group, Inc., who participated in the meeting. “It is one of the three most important industries in the world and northwest Ohio is in a prime position to grow because of its logistics potential.”
Balzer led the group through a series of exercises to identify opportunities and address the challenges the industry faces, both very large and very small. The team also worked to identify root causes of issues and roadblocks, and the following pieces were identified as top priorities among the leaders:
- Create a transportation and logistics website for the region to promote the sector
- Highlight drivers who delivered on goals and persevered during the most difficult moments of the pandemic
- Create alliances with other segments of industries recruiting from high school populations
- Build a campaign to highlight to the public that drivers are their neighbors – people that they know and talk to every day, both on and off the job
- Create a collection of state and national resources that promote the transportation and logistics industry for employers to share
- Present a career day for jobs and careers in the transportation and logistics industry
- Promote and highlight the benefits that being a driver has, including the opportunities for growth, freedom the job offers and wages
- Hold discussions and speaker series with professional organizations to spread awareness of the transportation and logistics industry
- Highlight the skill sets and accomplishments of drivers and logistics industry employees
- Highlight interesting, unique or exciting loads delivered by the industry, such as during the Super Bowl
Whether it be trains, plane trucks, ships or automobiles, the transportation and logistics industry has unwaveringly withstood the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it. An increase in fuel prices, inclement weather, backlogged orders for big rigs, and shortages in cargo containers and the workforce may have rocked the boat of the industry, but the challenges were unable to sink it.
Northwest Ohio has more than 2,585 transportation and material moving occupations. Truck driving is the leading open occupation with nearly 2,000 heavy truck and tractor trailer positions available. So, why so many openings? According to the Toledo Region Talent Alignment Strategy, there has been a major uptick in retiring workers and a decrease in people ages 25-64 entering the workforce in Lucas, Fulton and Ottawa counties over the last 10 years. However, we’re working on this problem, too. Workers interested in this vital industry can obtain funding for training through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act by contacting Ohio Means Jobs at 419-213-JOBS. For customers ages 16-24 years old, please contact the Harbor Youth Enhancement program at 567-203-4040.
For more information on the Toledo Chamber, the transportation and logistics industry sector partnership, or the initiatives to strengthen our region’s workforce, please contact Workforce Initiatives Manager Megan Stretavski at email@example.com.