- FedEx Logistics last week announced it will launch an employment and talent development program aimed at historically black colleges and universities (HCBUs), starting with Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) in August 2019.
- FedEx Logistics will open a satellite office on the MVSU campus in Itta Bena, Mississippi, where students will be hired to work part-time in customs and trade-focused roles, with opportunities for full-time employment with the company after graduation.
- "Connecting people and possibilities and developing diverse talent in the communities where we live and work are priorities for FedEx Logistics," Thanh Anderson, vice president of Global Support Services at FedEx Logistics, said in a press release.
FedEx has a history of investing in community outreach and development programs like the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, its own Junior Business Challenge for young entrepreneurs and the Purple Runway Program aimed at recruiting new cargo pilots. Likewise, the company's latest effort to reach out to HCBUs follows a similar trend.
As concerns about the growing digital skills gap emerge in the logistics and supply chain fields, firms like FedEx are opening more avenues to get young, tech-savvy talent into their recruitment pipelines. Hiring skilled workers for supply chain careers has been listed as a top challenge for the last four years in the MHI Industry Report.
HCBUs are historically underrepresented in major companies' campus recruiting efforts, despite statistics showing their graduates are consistent top performers, making them an untapped resource for firms that value talent and increasing diversity.
"Our students' response to joining the FedEx Logistics team during their matriculation at MVSU has been tremendous. We envision a long-lasting relationship with FedEx Logistics that will be beneficial to both organizations," MVSU President Jerryl Briggs said in a press release.
For their part, HBCUs are being called upon to explore new business models to stay viable. In a December 2017 op-ed published in Inside Higher Ed, former Winston-Salem State University President Alvin Schexnider said doing so may require the institutions to identify "a niche or center of excellence that distinguishes it from the competition."
Improving connections to the workforce may be one approach. That's one aim of a three-part pilot with a dozen HBCUs and the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Education Design Lab through the United Negro College Fund's Career Pathways Initiative. The effort includes improving curriculum, forging ties with employers and training faculty to better align their courses with employers' training needs.