Published August 18, 2021 at 1:29pm.
Story by Jan Osborn. Photos by Erin Schreyer.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly four million women have left the workforce. With federal unemployment benefits expiring across the country, many of these women are considering a return to low-wage service and hospitality jobs. That’s where READYTOWORK® steps in. As a workforce training and development organization specializing in licensing and certifications for the logistics industry, the READYTOWORK® team is welcoming these women into a growing industry by partnering with nonprofit organizations to make certification accessible and free.
Their first collaboration in North Texas is with Aspire, a Dallas-based literacy and career learning nonprofit. Together, the organizations are offering free forklift training and certifications for the unemployed and underemployed. Women have made up more than 40 percent of training participants so far. When they complete the program, participants receive a forklift operating certification that is valid for three years, making them eligible for living-wage jobs. Each four-day training program consists of classroom instruction on workplace safety in industrial environments, followed by hands-on equipment instruction that lines up with current OSHA standards.
“Literacy and life-long learning are key to addressing inequity in our communities,” said Dr. Linda K. Johnson, president and CEO of Aspire. “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.”
READYTOWORK®, an affiliate of On-Target Supplies & Logistics, Ltd. (OTSL) was founded in 2006 in order to create a pipeline of qualified job candidates for the logistics industry, which provides living-wage jobs, on average $15-$20, but also requires certification.
“Too many employers sit passively and wonder why qualified workers aren’t applying for jobs,” said Tré Black, president of On-Target Supplies & Logistics, Ltd. “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 nonprofit collaboration benefits communities, businesses and the U.S. economy.”
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator, a single Texan with no children needs to earn more than $14 an hour to make a living wage. Dallas logistics company, On Target, has hired trainees from the Aspire program, and the average employee makes $20.80 an hour.
Since February 2020, transportation and logistics job postings on LinkedIn have risen nearly 120 percent, and the new federal infrastructure bill has the potential to create even more new jobs in all aspects of the supply chain, from compliance and material handling to dispatch and warehouse management.
READYTOWORK® hopes their for-profit/nonprofit collaborative model can be replicated by other supply chain companies, creating a ready workforce and helping more women move from low-wage to living-wage jobs.
If you’d like to learn more about upcoming workforce training opportunities, visit aspiretolearn.org/workforce.