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“Not your grandfather’s warehouse”: Prologis workforce initiative takes aim at labor shortage

( IPhoto: Prologis)

To meet the growing demand for transportation, distribution and logistics workers, Prologis  (NYSE: PLD) has expanded a community workforce initiative to Miami public schools. The industrial real estate investment trust (REIT), which released its fourth quarter and 2018 full year earnings this morning,  is partnering with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to create a Trade and Logistics Lab, a four-year training program.

Construction related to the program began this month, and the first students will be enrolled in August 2019.

The initiative comes as the e-commerce market booms and industry experiences a severe labor shortage.

“We created the program understanding the pain point around labor is deepening,” said Jeannie Renne-Malone, global head of environmental, social and corporate governance at Prologis. “It strengthens our relationship with customers, creates a talent pipeline for them and deepens investment in our communities.”

The lab will be housed at Miami Springs Senior High School. Students will take classes in technical and soft skills, attend job interview preparatory classes and have access to company recruiters.

The Miami program marks Prologis’ second logistics-focused and internship community workforce initiative (CWI). Earlier this year, the company partnered with EXP, a Southern California  job readiness organization, on an internship program serving communities in Southern California.

In 2018, EXP placed 135 interns with employers; this year it is on track to place at least 150, said Amy Grat, EXP’s chief executive officer.  Prologis customers who have hosted EXP interns include Andeavor, Franco Trucking, NFI California Cartage, Nova Transportation Services and Yusen Logistics.

Demand for trained workers is growing, but few educators know how to teach the fundamentals of logistics as it is practiced today. “This is not your grandfather’s warehouse,” Grat said.

The internships bridge the gap. “They are the crown jewel,” according to Grat.

They also fill a skills gap, providing training and worker readiness in places where a lot of young people are not going on to four-year colleges, explained Grat and Renne-Malone.

Prologis aims to invest several million dollars in CWI programs over the next few years. Renne-Malone said.  “The goal is take this national.”

Industrial REITs are benefiting from the expansion in e-commerce and a strong manufacturing sector. Jobs are the outlier. The CBRE Group forecasts a need of around 452,000 warehouses and distribution workers in the United States for the next two years.

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.

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