n September 2021, logistics real estate giant Prologis announced plans to expand its Community Workforce Initiative (CWI) training program in six U.S. markets to create educational opportunities for people seeking careers in logistics. In partnership with Jobs for the Future, a national nonprofit driving transformation in the American workforce and educational systems, Prologis CWI will train 10,000 people for jobs in transportation, distribution and logistics over the next two years in Atlanta, Georgia; Las Vegas, Nevada; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas, Texas; and Tracy and Long Beach, California. Prologis also is establishing new workforce programs in nine additional markets. The CWI training program’s goal is to train 25,000 people by 2025.
“Our customers’ needs for skilled and ready labor are greater than ever,” said Hamid Moghadam, chairman and CEO of Prologis when the CWI training program expansion was announced. “Helping people acquire in-demand skills that can translate to fulfilling careers in logistics is a benefit to workers, employers and communities. Beyond creating new career opportunities, the program will strengthen the communities where we operate and contribute to a resilient and healthy logistics industry for years to come.”
Prologis operates multiple industrial warehouses and distribution centers in California’s Central Valley, including the International Park of Commerce in Tracy, in southwestern San Joaquin County, where Vice President and Market Officer Matt Drury is based. In October, Drury responded to questions concerning workforce challenges in the region and ways companies are responding to and meeting those challenges. Following are excerpts of that email exchange.
What do you consider to be a top workforce challenge in the region?
DRURY: We need to work to change the perception of the TDL Transportation/Distribution/Logistics) industry. COVID has significantly impacted the logistics industry and increased demand that only continues to intensify. Due to this demand, there are a lot of good job opportunities within the sector, especially in San Joaquin County. Unfortunately, many do not fully understand the logistics industry. People often automatically jump to driving jobs or lifting heavy objects — there’s so much more to it. It’s all about shifting the perception to attract more talent to the TDL industry. The industry will need a diverse and skilled workforce not only to meet the market’s demand but to grow and succeed globally.
Describe Prologis’ role in addressing this challenge and its broader role in preparing the workforce of tomorrow.
DRURY: Prologis launched CWI in 2018 to help build a talent pipeline for customers, revitalize career pathways and invest deeper in local communities. We’ve partnered with Jobs for the Future to help identify local community-based organizations, community colleges, and workforce development boards. These organizations assist with engaging job seekers through the Prologis digital training platform and provide career guidance, coaching and support. Since its launch, we’ve scaled the CWI program across 15 U.S. markets, two international markets and trained over 14,000 participants. Prologis is training people for logistics careers at a time when the sector has never been more important. We are focused on creating good careers and economic mobility in communities.
In the San Joaquin region, we’ve partnered with San Joaquin County WorkNet. Through Prologis investments, the San Joaquin County WorkNet is working to enroll at least 650 individuals in our Prologis Learning Academy platform, place 355 individuals into the TDL industry, and ultimately train and upskill talent to create a strong workforce in San Joaquin County. Year to date, we are proud to say over 350 individuals have been placed into jobs in the logistics industry and we have enrolled over 250 individuals into our training platform. We understand the job is not done, but through the strong partnership, we will continue the momentum and achieve the set goals we had in place for the region.
How involved is private industry in working with public-sector entities in the region to develop the local workforce?
DRURY: To sustain the ecosystem and this level of work in the workforce development space requires support from the public and private sector. Several corporations are utilizing their resources and leveraging the public-sector/NGOs to invest and modernize in the economic and workforce development arena. CWI is one of the main drivers in how Prologis makes direct investments in the local communities where we operate. We have provided grant funds to local nonprofit organizations, workforce development boards and community colleges to help scale our program across the 17 markets CWI operates in.
Prologis accounts for $226 billion dollars in direct, indirect and induced economic impact per year, and we cannot achieve this feat alone without building partnerships with local leaders and organizations. We’re constantly engaging with stakeholders in local communities not only with CWI but also during project developments. Prologis maintains strong involvement with the local chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and NGOs tied to our charitable giving initiatives.
How will the region’s workforce be different five to ten years from now in ways that will benefit companies considering establishing operations there?
DRURY: San Joaquin County continues to see a lot of growth and direct investments, which is making the region that much more attractive. The region has seen a significant boost in the economic development and long-term sustainability space as renewable energy projects scale in the area, infrastructure projects increase and city services improve for the public. The region’s workforce will need to be better trained with higher skillsets such as engineering and mechanical backgrounds and related skillsets to meet the demands of warehouses of the future. These will have a much greater degree of automation, with extensive material handling systems and robots that move goods around the warehouses.
One thing we know is that San Joaquin County continues to invest and promote heavily in the TDL, healthcare and advanced manufacturing industries. It needs continued collaboration from companies already located here and those looking to move into the region. Also, there is a collective focus on providing career pathway opportunities for the San Joaquin youth, which will prove to be pivotal for long-term sustainability.
Mark Arend has been editor in chief of Site Selection magazine since 2001. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.