Each month, school district superintendents from Lackawanna County in northeast Pennsylvania meet to discuss a variety of issues common to them all – things like curriculums, budget management, and security. Typically, they meet in a conference room at the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, however last month they met at KANE headquarters in Scranton, where there was one more topic on the agenda – jobs.
School leaders actually donned safety vests and glasses for a tour of one of KANE’s busiest distribution centers and the kinds of jobs available in such operations. The visit was part of KANE’s aggressive efforts to educate the community about career opportunities in logistics – and at KANE.
The growth in the warehousing and transportation industry has created a labor shortage in logistics that is predicted to get even worse. A recent Logistics Management magazine article said businesses have identified “labor recruitment and development” as their top challenge. With the U.S. unemployment rate at 3.6%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment in logistics will grow 7% through 2026.
Despite this opportunity, many high school students have no idea about logistics as a career option.
“Logistics is kind of like the engine room in a large ship,” says KANE’s Senior Director of Marketing, Alex Stark. “It’s the most important place on the ship because, without it, the ship doesn’t move. But few people ever see that engine room. What happens down there is taken for granted.”
That’s why KANE has been proactive about creating stronger ties with local school districts. Last month, KANE hosted 5 teachers for a multi-day orientation to logistics careers so these teachers could share their experiences with students.
According to Stark, “Most high school graduates go to college, but many choose not to and are exploring careers where they can earn a very good living without the college degree.”
Here are recent statistics on high school and college graduation rates:
- 30% of high school graduates do not attend college (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- Of high school graduates who attend college, 40% do not graduate within 6 years (National Center for Educational Statistics)
- 30% of college freshman drop out after their first year (The Balance)
So, for every 100 students who graduate high school, only 42 will graduate college in 6 years.
School districts need to prepare students to be successful in college, certainly. But they must be just as focused on preparing students to be successful in life. For the majority, the challenge of earning a living and building a career starts at, or shortly after, high school graduation.
The superintendent visit was part of KANE’s effort to spread the word about the diversity of career opportunities in logistics and the supply chain. Entry level jobs include driving a truck (the job with the most severe shortage of candidates) and warehouse operations jobs that involve picking cases or pallets and preparing them for shipment. These jobs can lead to more challenging and lucrative positions managing truck delivery networks or using advanced technology to manage complex warehouse operations. In fact, many of KANE’s senior operational leaders began in entry-level logistics jobs.
According to Stark, the superintendents were blown away by the speed and sophistication of the Sam’s Club distribution operation in Scranton and were surprised to learn that some of the people supervising the operation graduated from the very schools they represent.
“That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Stark, “take logistics out of the shadows and open people’s eyes to the opportunities.”