Extending Opportunity to Everyone

This year, BDI piloted a new training program in partnership with Atlanta CareerRise, a workforce funders collaborative managed by the United Way of Greater Atlanta on behalf of a set of local philanthropic and community funders.

The logistics training academy is an industry-led training, assessment, and certification system focused on the core skills and knowledge needed by the nation’s frontline material handling and distribution workers. Participants have an opportunity to earn their Certified Logistics Associate (CLA) and Certified Logistics Technician (CLT) credentials by taking a free, three-week course led by BDI instructors at our Jonesboro campus.

Offered by the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC), the CLA and CLT credentials demonstrate core competency for higher skilled, frontline material handing workers across all supply chain facilities: factories, warehouses, distribution centers, and transporters.                                

The training academy is just one of BDI’s efforts to shift to an employer-led, demand-driven model of workforce development. According to Cinda Herndon-King, Ph.D., Director of Atlanta CareerRise, this model provides better outcomes for both job-seekers and employers.

“The employers get involved in shaping the curriculum and specifying what the hiring criteria are,” Cinda explained, “so individuals in an employer-led, demand-driven training program are three times more likely to get a job in the field of training — and to keep that job — than individuals in a traditional job training program.”                    

Meanwhile, for employers, the model presents an opportunity to reduce time and money invested in new hires: “The advantage is that employers can hire someone who should be much easier and faster to onboard, someone they can retain, and someone who will ultimately be a more successful employee,” Cinda said.

 After students graduate from the logistics training academy, BDI provides ongoing job connections support to help them secure employment in the industry. BDI connected one of the graduates, Christopher Stiggers, with a job at Future Forwarding, a US-based transportation, warehousing, and logistics company. 

“We choose to hire BDI’s logistics training academy graduates not only to support the work that BDI does, but because the graduates arrive with a detailed understanding of logistical operations as a whole,” said Colin Smith, Future Forwarding President. “This knowledge provides them with a solid foundation to build a career with Future Forwarding and in the logistics industry in general.”

For Christopher, the logistics training academy provided an opportunity to learn about the many different career paths available in the logistics industry.

“The logistics training helped my career, first of all, by opening the door for me to get into logistics,” Christopher said. “When I first started in logistics, I was a picker for six months. Having a logistics training background helped me advance by moving over to customer service, where now I handle three accounts.”

Christopher’s supervisor, Dane Sitzman, describes him as a “hardworking, dedicated and loyal employee.” Like many of the logistics training academy graduates, Christopher is a veteran, and he believes his military background helped prepare him for a logistics career: “In the BDI training, we learned that a lot of the terms and ideas that have been incorporated into logistics came from the military. Plus being in the military taught me to be more detailed, pay attention, and stay organized.”

One of the goals of the logistics training academy is to facilitate opportunities for graduates, like Christopher, to receive promotions and advance in their logistics careers. Cinda explains that, “Particularly in the Airtropolis, which is the area in a ten-mile radius of the airport, there are lots of entry-level opportunities, and there are career pathways to higher level positions. Now we’re starting to look at what else we can do once our graduates are in a job to support them and help them take that next step.”

This is all part of BDI and Atlanta CareerRise’s plan to promote economic inclusion by closing the skills gap and advancing underemployed individuals toward sustainable wage careers. Logistics is a high-growth industry throughout metro Atlanta, especially in the Airtropolis, so it presents lots of opportunities for workforce development pathways and partnerships.

“We’re really excited about the potential for expanding this training,” Cinda said. “There’s just tremendous potential for doing more and more of this, and really using BDI as a growth model for what we’re doing. We’re tremendously pleased, and we’re ready for the next cohort of students!”


Ability One Georgia Enterprises United Way