Warehouse bootcamp helps valley workers, employers

naustin@modbee.comJune 11, 2013 

    alternate textNan Austin
    Title: Education reporter
    Coverage areas: K-12 education, Yosemite Community College District
    Bio: Nan Austin has been a copy editor and reporter at The Modesto Bee for 24 years. She has an economics degree from CSU Stanislaus and previously worked at the Merced Sun-Star and Turlock Journal.
    Recent stories written by Nan
    On Twitter: @nanaustin
    E-mail: naustin@modbee.com

— Workers need jobs. Companies need workers. To help bridge the gap and make the match, Modesto Junior College and Alliance Worknet joined forces.

The result, Logistics and Warehousing Bootcamp, will train 128 students in the basics of managing inventory, from scanning bar codes to reading spreadsheets to hauling pallets on a forklift.

Most will walk away as certified logistics associates, a national certification, said Pedro Mendez, MJC dean of technical education and work force development.

The Alliance developed the training with MJC to match a growing need for warehouse workers, said Alliance Worknet Director Jeff Rowe. By his figures, Stanislaus County will have 300 jobs each year for the next five years requiring those skills.

"A lot of employers are willing to train, but it makes it easier and less expensive for them if they have some workers with basic training. They can hit the ground running," Rowe said.

Employers helpeddevelop the two-week course, which includes an online class, a Saturday spent scanning bar codes and another spent running several kinds of forklifts.

"It's really going to improve my chances," said Kim Klardie, 58, a laid-off warehouse worker. She said Amazon already had called her back for an interview. "That's the first time in a long time I've had that."

Klardie said the training updated her forklift skills and helped her see the bigger picture of how inventory travels. "It's nice to know the set-up and how very big it is. It's a big conglomeration of people working to get product out there," she said.

For Patrick Kearney, 57, the course gave him a way to move from lower-paying retail to $10- to $16-an-hour jobs in warehousing. "What I liked was it brought together a lot of work I'd done and gave me some insight into the process," he said.

Kearney drove a forklift at a warehouse straight out of high school, but today's machines also read bar codes and have other electronics. Flush with new skills, he said the certificate gives him something for his warehouse résumé besides a decades-old job reference.

G3 Enterprises Warehouse Manager Ken Hobbs said operators of computerized forklifts are what he's looking for because that's 90 percent of what his workers do. Hobbs recommended the hands-on training in forklift operation and safety to course developers.

"It's pretty much a deal breaker for us if they don't have that," he said.

For more on job seeking services, visit www.allianceworknet.com. For Modesto Junior College job-training programs, visit www.mjc.edu/current/programs/divdeps/teched/index.html.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209) 578-2339, on Twitter, @NanAustin, www.modbee.com/education.

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