Industrial distributor careers program set for expansion in 2010
Chicago, IL. -- Five years into working with colleges, technical schools, industry veterans and 10 association...
Chicago, IL. — Five years into working with colleges, technical schools, industry veterans and 10 associations, the Industrial Careers Pathway (ICP) workforce development program now has several success stories to report. The program is designed to attract new talent to industrial distribution.
The Industrial Careers Pathway is a multifaceted North American workforce initiative that addresses the need for a skilled industrial distribution and manufacturing sales and customer service workforce today and tomorrow. ICP links students and job seekers to career paths in industrial distribution and manufacturing through partnerships with local educators and employers.
Now, ICP’s leadership has learned lessons to position the program for a comprehensive expansion plan for 2010 and beyond. “This year is a critical turning point for ICP,” said Phyllis Russell, executive director of the program. “We have a clear path for the program’s expansion, which we’re setting into motion now. Next year, you’ll see us really make some noise.”
The ICP initiative was born in 2002, when the Power Transmission Distributors Association’s PTDA Foundation identified industrial distribution’s need for entry-level employees with industry-specific skills and knowledge. From 2003 through 2008, the main focus was a pilot program in which ICP partnered with community colleges in the United States and Canada to teach the essential skills for industrial distributors, creating local pools of qualified potential employees and affordable employee training programs. With five years of experience, ICP is ready to enhance the program and expand its reach across North America.
The results of the pilot program are presented in the Industrial Distribution Pilot Initiative Project Report, available for download at www.industrialcareerspathway.com/ProjectReport. The report reviews the history of each pilot site, features two success stories and outlines critical success factors to guide the expansion.
Two programs — Henry Ford Community College (HFCC) in Dearborn/Detroit, MI, and Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, NE — first enrolled students in an Industrial Distribution Certificate program in 2003, with a program at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cleveland, OH, beginning in 2004.
By the end of 2006, three additional locations were ICP pilot sites: Dakota County Technical College (DCTC), Twin Cities, MN.; Mohawk College, Hamilton/Toronto, ON; and British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Vancouver, BC.
As the pilot phase concluded at the end of 2008, courses were being offered at four of the pilot sites, attended by 75 students in total. Although total fall 2009 numbers aren’t in yet, 70 students are enrolled in industrial distribution leadership courses at Mohawk College alone.
“After the many years of the PTDA Foundation’s efforts and the formation of ICP to accelerate the development of industrial distribution programs in colleges, it brings some great satisfaction to be to the point of planning the next steps in the expansion of the ICP concept,” said Bill Childers, ICP steering committee chair and president North American sales for Rexnord LLC.
ICP recognized the need to introduce students to the industrial distribution business model. Elements of Industrial Distribution, developed specifically as the online textbook for the introductory industrial distribution course at a community or technical college, covers four key areas of study, each containing 17-20 lessons:
· Industrial Distribution Fundamentals introduces employees to the industrial distribution model.
· Functional Operations Overview familiarizes employees with the operating and business components of industrial distribution.
· Customer Service & Sales focuses on the industrial consumer and their relationship with the industrial
· Marketing & Profitability covers marketing to industrial customers, financial concepts in distribution and profitability.
The Elements course is also available to companies seeking to train entry-level employees on the industrial distribution business model.
As are result of the evaluation, ICP is focusing on four key initiatives to guide expansion:
1. Learning objectives and certification: Review, update and expand industrial distribution learning objectives as the basis for a) building industrial distribution programs and curriculum and b) an industrial distribution certificate for “entry-level” customer service and sales employees.
2. Development of industrial distribution material: Create Industrial Product Technologies and Applications material from a broad cross-section of industries serviced by industrial distribution.
3. Expansion of sites: Add additional colleges to the program to reach students in major distribution hubs across the US and Canada.
4. Student outreach: Expand the ICP website to add more efforts to achieve the program’s most important goal — drawing students to the ICP classes.
“Developing the workforce of the future is an important strategic initiative for the fluid power industry,” said Pete Alles, director of services and development with the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA). “As an ICP Alliance Partner, we believe these programs play a key role in ensuring an adequate supply of future employees with solid knowledge of industrial distribution concepts, as well as helping distributors elevate existing employees to new levels.
“With industry-relevant material, ICP programs help generate interest in careers with the various participating industries, in addition to industrial distribution generally,” added Alles.
A new ICP website is scheduled for launch in October 2009. A key feature of the website will be an employer database, where job seekers can search for companies based on location or product type. The database will be filled with member companies that belong to Alliance Partner associations.
ICP is supported by associations and organizations committed to the advancement of industrial distribution, including six Alliance Partner organizations (American Supply Association, Bearing Specialists Association, Industrial Supply Association, International Association of Plastics Distribution, National Fluid Power Association and the Power Transmission Distributors Association), and four Alliance Supporters (The FPDA Motion + Control Network, HALO/HARDI, NAHAD and the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors).
In addition, more than 100 distributors and manufacturers across North America provide financial support and volunteer leadership.