Workers jump at chance for free training in expanding TDL industry

Leah Mishkin, Correspondent | January 23, 2018 | Education

About three weeks ago, Jersey City resident Oliver Flores got laid off from his job in the fast food industry. He saw it as an opportunity to start over in a booming field — transportation, distribution and logistics, otherwise known as TDL.

“I can see this as an opportunity to help my mother with the bills and everything,” said Flores.

“If you’re ordering anything from Amazon and eBay or anything these days through an online catalog, whether it’s Macy’s or Bed Bath and Beyond, a lot of that warehousing process, fulfillment process, happens through electronic transfer and people,” said Vid Bahadur, assistant director of continued education at New Jersey City University.

At an open house, potential students learned about a free TDL training program at the logistics center at NJCU. Organizers say the roughly four week course trains students on soft skills like learning to come to work on time, how to dress, communication with others, to hard skills like remaining safe on site, forklift operation, and basic Word and Excel training.

“This course will pursue some type of success in my life, especially in a time of hardship,” said Moises Davila.

In 2016, more than 380,000 workers were employed by the TDL industry in New Jersey. That accounts for about 11 percent of the state’s private sector workers with an average salary of roughly $72,000 a year, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

“That tends to be the case in this industry where they generally start folks at $14, $15 an hour, maybe even $12. After certain months of working the five or six months, they become supervisors, they become area shift managers, so forth. And a lot of our students who are now managers have only been working for a year, year and half,” said Bahadur.

Over a 10-year period, warehousing and storage saw an added 13,000 jobs in the state. With New Jersey making Amazon’s top 20 list for its new headquarters, students at the open house see that as more potential employment. The company promises 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion investment in the city it chooses.

“We’re all hoping we’re part of that. We’re hoping we can train some of these people and place them particularly with Amazon, and we’ve done that already with Amazon that’s in South Jersey, but we’re hoping they can come up north a little closer to us,” said Bahadur.

Program officials say in about two years they’ve graduated 450 students and 70 percent gained full employment. It’s a statistic Oliver Flores hopes to join.