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Axle Logistics partners with university to foster sales leaders of tomorrow

Staffing woes are not constrained to the driver’s seat

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The nationwide unemployment rate continues to hover near historic lows, and companies across the supply chain are feeling the squeeze. The driver shortage is a popular topic of discussion, but talent is currently lacking across various roles within the industry. 

Unemployment across all industries sat at just 3.4% in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate within the transportation industry is slightly higher than the national average, coming in at 4.5% for that same time period. Still, this represents a 3.4% year-over-year drop, significantly steeper than the 2.1% drop seen in the greater economy.

This drop can likely be attributed to strides made in driver hiring, as companies continue to funnel resources into solving the infamous driver shortage. Additionally, driving schools have started turning out graduates again after pandemic-related shutdowns. 

The driver shortage has been a consistent headache for companies across the industry, but shrinking unemployment rates have made it difficult to hire for other roles as well. This is especially true when it comes to sales positions, as these workers are in high demand across all industries, not just logistics. 

While short-term initiatives like pay raises and recruiting incentives can help individual companies attract talent, a wider problem still exists: There are more available jobs than qualified workers to fill them.

In an effort to address the root of the issue, Axle Logistics has partnered with the University of Tennessee’s Haslam College of Business to turn out more well-trained, entry-level sales professionals. 

Tennessee-based Axle has made a three-year financial commitment to the university, allowing them to launch a sales performance lab in the fall. The money will be used to facilitate a new sales practicum class, giving students the chance to get hands-on experience before entering the job market.

“It is our collective goal to bring real-world sales experience to the collegiate setting,” Ali Fraley, vice president of learning and development at Axle said. “We believe that curating this unique state-of-the-art environment within the Haslam College of Business will spark the entrepreneurial spirit in these students, setting them up for success well before entering the workforce.”

This partnership will prepare business students to be effective in sales roles across all different industries upon graduation, not just logistics. The collaboration illustrates how corporations and universities can work together to create a more effective workforce overall, according to Alex Zablah, Haslam College of Business head of marketing.

“Their financial support and willingness to collaborate with us to develop and deliver the sales practicum will provide Tennessee students with an experiential learning opportunity unlike any other available in the country,” Zablah said.

Despite not being a logistics-specific effort, creating a more-equipped workforce overall will inevitably lead to better-trained sales professionals within the industry. This is especially true in a transportation hub like Tennessee. 

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Ashley Coker

Ashley is interested in everything that moves, especially trucks and planes. She covers air cargo, trucking and sponsored content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.