As chair of the Beacon Council’s Trade and Logistics Committee, I am committed, together with my team, to make a lasting impact on the South Florida trade and logistics field and the greater community. The most recent data show that trade and logistics in Miami-Dade County has 31,059 jobs and an average annual salary of $57,606. These and other facts have led us to believe that investing in the education of young Miamians will produce a competent and necessary workforce in the years to come for this growing industry.
Below are the goals we’ve set for the Trade and Logistics Committee:
▪ Marketing trade and logistics opportunities worldwide and locally.
▪ Create opportunities for low-income/neglected communities to engage in the Miami-Dade logistics scene.
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▪ Find gainful employment opportunities for newly developed logistics talents.
To meet these goals, we’re focused on creating opportunities for low-income/neglected communities to engage in the Miami-Dade logistics scene. We believe this will have a lasting impact on the county’s economy because it will help the communities that have traditionally struggled to find and carve out a niche in a growing industry within South Florida.
After narrowing our focus to the cities of Miami, Hialeah, Miami Beach, Medley and Florida City, we began establishing the right connections to make sure we’re able to gain the support of the people that will allow us to make real impacts in each community.
By engage city officials and selling them on our dream, they can then point us to high schools within their districts that may be open to our program, and we can begin to discuss with principals how best to implement logistics education programs with their districts. This will happen in a multi-channeled approach, both through traditional schoolwork (studying theories of supply-chain management) and practical experience (offering internships and work programs within the logistics sector).
Our hope is that the city councilmen or councilwomen will aid us in this initiative and assist us with fulfilling our end goals. Initially, the students will be exposed to learn the skills that will allow them to be assets in an industry that plays an important role in South Florida’s economy. Additionally, students will learn in a way that is conducive to a career in logistics and will be more “hireable” once they are out. This offers an opportunity for economic prosperity for generations to come and will distinguish South Florida as a leader in logistics and with true homegrown logisticians.
Dr. Lupe Diaz, the executive director of career technical education at Miami-Dade County Public Schools, has developed high-school curricula designed to teach logistics. These programs have been wildly successful and are in their second year of operation.
The schools that Diaz has worked with are Miami Central High in Miami and Ronald Reagan High in Doral, both of which have established a trade and logistics program. Miami Killian High in Kendall has just started an international supply-chain management program. Once the success of these programs has been established, it will be much easier to convince other schools in the district to join in and reap the benefits of working with Diaz and the Beacon Council’s Trade and Logistics Committee.
We’ve also begun conversations with the logistics companies to ensure that they’ll offer internships to the graduates of these programs. Once graduates are able to work in this field, they’ll have a solid background to ensure them gainful employment in this industry because they’ll have all of the facets necessary to not only be hired, but to truly be a valuable member of the company.
The program is also meant to give options to individuals who may not be interested in attending a traditional four-year college because there are many aspects of the industry where employees can excel, even without a bachelor’s degree. And individuals who are already experienced and looking for employment will also be able to find jobs through assistance offered through the Beacon Council-MDCPS partnership; there’s always a need for experienced individuals who are certified in various aspects of the industry.
We believe this education and practical experience will give individuals an opportunity not only for a career, but also a brighter future for Miami-Dade County that is absolutely attainable.
Ron Atapattu is president and founder of Overseas Cargo Inc. (ShipOCI.com) and chair of the Beacon Council’s Trade and Logistics Committee. This opinion piece was written for Business Monday of the Miami Herald and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the newspaper.
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