A $3 million federal grant will allow East Los Angeles College to expand and continue running a program to train workers for logistics jobs, many of them at the Port of Los Angeles, the seventh largest port in the world.
“I’m very excited because there is a high rate of unemployment. There are a lot of displaced workers whose jobs went overseas,” said U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Her office administers the grant together with the U.S. Department of Education.
ELAC’s share of the funds is part of a nationwide $500 million pool of stimulus grant money going to colleges, universities and other programs across the country. The grant money was given out competitively through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative to create job and skills training opportunities in a range of fields including advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care.
While ports across the country are expected to be a driver of jobs in the logistics industry, right now not many workers are trained to take them on. “There are 3.7 million jobs going unfilled,” Solis said.
According to Elaine Shibata, Chair of the Office of Computer Applications and Office Technology at East Los Angeles, logistics skills are needed in a wide range of industries. “It’s everywhere. It can’t be outsourced. That’s why it’s an appealing major,” she says.
The grant will help ELAC’s program pay for expensive training equipment, fund students’ certification fees (saving students the $460 fee for national logistics certification), and even expand their offerings to include other certifications in areas like hazmat and security.
ELAC’s Technology & Logistics program started in 2007 and was driven by industry partners, in particular UPS, seeking skilled workers. The college has also partnered with the after-school program at Garfield High School and Roosevelt High School, the Wilshire-Metro Worksource Center, and the Los Angeles County Department of Social Services/CalWORKS program.
Since 2007, Shibata says their program, which can be finished in six to seven months, has produced “success stories,” including a single mother on welfare who was recruited and was able to skip entry-level positions at her first job in the field.
Shibata says their program is an especially good opportunity for veterans who already have many of the skills, but not the certification. Some have even finished the courses in just one semester. “Military is all about logistics, so we don’t start with our beginning courses with them,” she said.
The ELAC program is the only one “west of the Rockies” that gives college credit for its logistics program, Shibata adds. Currently they are putting the last touches on an associates degree program in a partnership with Cal State LA that is set to debut in 2013.