Warehouses, freight haulers scramble to find workers

Warehousing, moving and storing freight continue to be big business in the Greater Lehigh Valley and throughout Pennsylvania.

Warehousing, moving and storing freight continue to be big business in the Greater Lehigh Valley and throughout Pennsylvania.

But the vexing question remains: How to find enough qualified workers to fuel the logistics and transportation industry.

“Go back just 25 short years and look at the Lehigh Valley alone,” said Maureen Donovan, assistant director of workforce and community services at Lehigh Carbon Community College.

“How many industrial parks do you remember? Now look at the industry today,” she said, referring to the virtual explosion of transportation and warehouse hubs in the Lehigh Valley over the past decade.

Donovan said the growth of warehouse and dispatch services is proof of the industry’s health and continued vitality in the region.

Maintaining a skilled workforce, along with grooming new blood to enter it, is a primary concern of area trade schools, community colleges and the companies who hire them.

Donovan said recruiters set up career fairs and speak to students nearing graduation at LCCC.

“While an 18-year-old can get a commercial motor vehicle license, major trucking companies set 23 as the minimum requirement to be employable,” Donovan explained.

And Frank Zukas said that dichotomy is a double-edged sword for an industry hungry for new workers. Zukas is president of the Schuylkill Economic Development Corp., based in Pottsville, Schuylkill County.

“They [new drivers] might have the credentials, but don’t have the time logged to be noticed by large companies, it’s that old paradox, everyone wants someone with experience, but how do you get experience without a job,” he said.

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