New partnership to offer warehouse and distribution certifications

By Michael Pollick

Published: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 5:05 p.m.

CareerEdge Funders Collaborative of Bradenton and St. Petersburg College have formed a new joint venture aimed at getting 300 workers certified to work in supply-chain jobs in the next two years.

The new deal for would-be workers is called “TDL Tampa Bay,” or “transportation, distribution and logistics.”

While this specific partnership is with a Pinellas County institution, CareerEdge Funders executive director Mireya Eavey emphasized that State College of Florida and other schools also will be involved, and that the job seekers to be helped are to be from Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties as well as from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

St. Petersburg College, as part of a consortium of a dozen colleges nationwide, has been working on eight new career certification courses since 2013, with funding from the Department of Labor. The college has 10 campuses throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Meanwhile, CareerEdge, which has its offices at State College of Florida’s Lakewood Ranch campus, has lined up a $220,000 starter grant for the new partnership from a national non-profit group called Jobs for the Future.

“These are brand-new industry certifications that will assist the unemployed and underemployed in getting entry or mid-level positions in the supply chain,” said Marta Przyborowski, who runs the St. Petersburg College program from the school’s main office in Clearwater.

Of the eight new certifications, two have been rolled out: “supply chain management principles” and “warehousing operations.”

Studying online

Much of the coursework will be done online through WebEx, a live interactive video meeting system developed by Cisco Systems Inc..

“Say some people at PGT are going to take this class,” Eavey said, referring to the Venice-based hurricane-resistant window and door maker. “Their employees will go to a classroom and the live WebEx will be in the classroom. We are bringing the classroom here by WebEx and technology.”

The supply chain course is being taught entirely online. Warehousing operations will be taught through a combination of classroom and online instruction.

Other courses will help workers earn industry-recognized credentials such as a Commercial Drivers License, or CDL, or to become a Global Logistics Associate. Some of the courses will allow students to earn college credit leading to an associate’s degree in transportation, distribution and logistics.

The funding is money that could go to pay tuition starting today, Eavey said.

Other sources of money are lining up to support the TDL partnership, she said.

Ready to hire

At Sarasota County’s Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, human resources director Leslie Heller said her company already is in line for the partnership’s newly certified workers.

She says she could hire five Class A CDL-licensed truck drivers who have customer service experience if they walked into the office today.

“You can have a good driver, but you have to be able to communicate with the customers,” Heller said. “They are representing Gold Coast Eagle at that moment.”

Eavey said she is also in communication with Bealls Inc., the Bradenton-based department store operator, and with PGT regarding their training needs.

Meanwhile, CareerEdge expects to continue to enhance its working relationship with State College of Florida, which has been a partner since 2010.

That school’s Corporate and Community Development division now offers related certifications, such as “Certified in Production and Inventory Management.”

“We’re pleased to continue in our partnership with CareerEdge and educational partners to understand employers’ perspectives and needs and provide the best training to meet the workforce demands in our area,” SCF President Carol F. Probstfeld said.