Beyond Pick, Pack, and Ship: Supply Chain OKI

Industry partnerships have been at the heart of the National Fund’s model since the beginning. It’s one of the key ways that we activate employers to invest in the workforce. These employer-led partnerships have resulted in more effective training programs, higher job placement, and smarter investments in workforce development. Over the coming month, we will be sharing case studies of industry partnerships in Cincinnati, Boston, and Jackson, Mississippi.

Over the years, we at the National Fund have a pretty good idea of what makes partnerships between industry, workforce bodies, educational institutions, and training providers successful, and we’ve documented these elements in our publication, Characteristics of High Performing Partnerships.

Still, we also know that what makes a given industry partnership tick is often specific to that partnership. Each industry partnership reflects the unique needs of the community and the sector in the context of that community.

In Cincinnati, for example, the supply chain sector is an important component of the regional economy. Cincinnati is a major manufacturing center situated at a crossroads of America. It serves as a transportation hub for a variety of employers with regional, national, and international reach. Procter & Gamble is headquartered there. About 7.3% of regional jobs are in transportation and logistics. Last year, Amazon announced it is building a major hub in Cincinnati.

The industry partnership Supply Chain OKI (OKI stands for Ohio Kentucky Indiana) is meeting the demand for supply chain-related jobs in the region and is also much more broadly constituted than many “transportation and distribution” partnerships. Supply Chain OKI set out to change people’s perception of the supply chain industry. More than “pick, pack, and ship,” they tell high school students and other prospective workers, supply chain management encompasses a wide variety of career paths and includes technologically sophisticated, highly skilled positions. The partnership has been ready to engage schools, the unemployed, non-traditional workers and the broader community at large to seek out new workers.

 “Where is the workforce of the future? In some cases, it’s our schools. In others, it’s the long-term unemployed, or nontraditional workers, or those who are not currently in the labor force. We want to give everyone an opportunity.” Jesse Simmons

Another key driver has been the readiness to get quick wins meeting employer needs and demonstrating to the community opportunities in the industry. And a major reason is the management and coordination provided by an experienced veteran of the supply chain industry. Jesse Simmons previously worked at Proctor & Gamble. Jesse understands the industry, knows the major players, and provides hands-on coordination. He is always visiting with employers and educational and training institutions, and service providers to ensure that everyone is sharing information and the partnership is working effectively and efficiently.

Employers engaged in the Supply Chain OKI partnership are seeing big benefits of this work. “What amazes me is how quickly the partnership has come together and begun to effect change in our community,” said Lacy Starling of Legion Logistics. “It’s a great framework which others can use.”



Navjeet Singh

-- Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer, National Fund for Workforce Solutions