UPS Partners With Metropolitan College to Keep Jobs in Kentucky and Employees in the Company



Metropolitan College, a joint education-workforce-economic development initiative in Louisville, Kentucky, started as a Band-Aid solution to a staffing leakage that was forcing the region’s long-time top employer to consider relocating.

In the late 1990s, UPS was hoping to put into motion the largest capital project in company history – a $1 billion expansion of the 18-year-old hub at Louisville International Airport – but they couldn’t do so without stopping a serious turnover problem: the rate of attrition for the Next Day Air operations was at 70 percent. Rather than expanding, the company was considering leaving.

Confronted with such a huge threat to the local economy, the state government had to build a solution from the ground up. They partnered with the University of Louisville and Jefferson Community and Technical College and named UPS the charter company to establish Metropolitan College in 1998. In 1999, UPS went forward with its expansion, building a mammoth facility at the airport named Worldport.

The partnership between UPS and Metropolitan College exemplifies the benefits of joint efforts by the local government, the private sector, and credentialing institutions. Since its inception, the program has provided free post-secondary education and on-the-job training to over 14,000 participants. The Next Day Air operations turnover rate has dropped to 20 percent, with an 89 percent retention rate for part-time employees enrolled in the program (compared to a 39 percent rate among non-enrolled employees). The local economy has benefited as well, retaining a company that employs over 20,000 residents and sharing in its expanding market shares.

The MC program matches experimental learning with standard education in a way that benefits the students, the company, and the local economy. Participants earn on-the-job training working part-time in the Next Day Air division of UPS, for which they earn a wage of $10.51 per hour (with a 50 cent raise after the first year), full benefits and stock options. Mentors from the MC program are routinely on site at the airport to provide support.

MC participants are also paid with a formal education. UPS funds 50 percent of the in-state tuition rate and relocation costs. The other 50 percent is covered by Louisville Metro Government and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. UPS provides book reimbursements of up to $65 per class as well as academic completion bonuses. For its contribution, UPS receives a tax credit.

1,644 students were enrolled in this past spring at Metropolitan College. Of the 2015 class, 24 percent indicated they would not have been able to attend or finish college without the MC program. Sixty-four percent said they would have had to take out student loans.

In 2010, UPS completed its second Worldport expansion, increasing sort capacity to 416,000 packages per hour. It credits its partnership with Metropolitan College in laying a firm foundation for expansion and is looking at exploring even more untapped pools of talent to continue building out. In October of last year, the company announced plans to triple the size of its “Centennial” ground package sorting facility in Louisville, creating 300 additional jobs by 2018.

“UPS is exploring nontraditional sources of talent,” said Scott Gregory, the Airline Workforce Planning Manager. “We engage with community partners to find employees from low-income high schools, the foster care system, outside of the Louisville area and those with disabilities. These future employees would not normally come to UPS looking for a job.”

The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This Post was originally featured here


Hiring & Retention Practices, Partnerships, Workforce Development,
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