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Indianapolis WERCouncil Highlights Workforce Training Resources at January Event

February 8, 2018

Like most parts of the country, the explosive growth of e-commerce fulfillment has led to a workforce skills gap for warehousing and fulfillment operations within the state of Indiana. Employers are struggling to find the right talent to fill openings, or to train new hires needing job-specific skills. To address the shortfall, the state tasked the Indiana Department of Workforce Development with distributing $10 million through grants to employers and employees in need of critical training.

"These initiatives were announced in the third quarter of 2017, and the state has made the application process brief and simple for employers and employees," explains Ben Slaughter, General Manager at Accion Performance, a provider of strategic workforce solutions, and an Indianapolis WERCouncil Board Member.

"Because our WERCouncil chapter actively seeks presentation topics that are meaningful and valuable to the warehousing community, we put together an informational event in mid-January to share the details about these resources from both funding and educational perspectives," he continues.

The event, "Training Options & Training Funds to Skill Up Your Workforce," was held on January 18 and featured a keynote presentation from Sherrill Morton of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. It was hosted by the Vincennes University Logistics and Training Education Center ("VULTEC") in Plainfield, Indiana, which also detailed its own offerings. Additionally, representatives from Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana and the Purdue University Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) were on hand to share information about their training courses, notes Slaughter.

"All three schools have training programs across a breadth of different formats, including online, in-class and on weekends and evenings, with timeframes ranging from a few hours to several months," Slaughter explains. "This is particularly important for operations professionals who want to invest in their workforce, while balancing training time with daily demands of the operation. They also offer certifications that can be earned in a very short timeframe."

The school representatives specifically focused on courses and certifications that are relevant to warehousing facilities, including forklift operation and commercial drivers licensing, as well as other inventory control and logistics topics.

"We felt it was important to have the schools there personally because although employers need to be able to skill up their workforce quickly, not every company realizes that these schools offer more than two- and four-year degrees," he continues.

Because the event was put together so quickly, turnout was somewhat limited. However, Slaughter says attendees—who included operations managers, human resources professionals and trainers—were highly enthusiastic.

"They represented companies with thousands of associates here in central Indiana, and many seemed motivated to pursue the grant applications," he notes. "The funds are limited and we wanted to make sure people were aware of them as soon as possible so they could take advantage of the opportunity and focus on building and strengthening their workforce."

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