Games support important industry

Published 9:02 pm Monday, June 11, 2018

The success of the logistics industry in Suffolk has caused a lot of — well — logistical challenges, particularly as it relates to the dangers of thousands of trucks maneuvering the same roads as passenger vehicles every single day. The long lines of traffic that form whenever there’s a train blocking the multiple crossings throughout the city are another complicating factor.

But the industry also provides jobs to hundreds — not to mention the millions added to the city’s tax rolls. These employees were among the good sports competing in the LogistXGames last Thursday at the Virginia Regional Commerce Park in Suffolk.

Eleven teams, featuring more than 100 logistics employees, put together and arranged boxes on a pallet and put the pallet through a relay course to see if the boxes would stay.

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Teams then had to take their stacks and organize them on the correct shelves according to the numbered labels. Finally, each team packed a box with fragile bottles of liquid and then tossed them for distance and accuracy, hoping that the bottles didn’t break when they landed.

The games rewarded warehouse employees with a break from their normal schedules, got distribution partners together and, most importantly, provided scholarships for workforce development courses at Paul D. Camp and Tidewater community colleges.

The event had about 30 sponsors this year and raised about $33,000. Givens won for the third time in five years, but the real winners were the students who will benefit from those scholarships.

Workforce development is an important area of focus here in Hampton Roads, especially for jobs that pay well but do not require a bachelor’s degree. Local community colleges offer courses and programs that prepare folks to work in a warehouse, manage a warehouse, drive a tractor-trailer or perform other needed jobs in the logistics field.

As syndicated columnist Tom Purcell says on this page, there are many manual-labor jobs that pay very well and don’t require a four-year degree (and the debt that comes with it). We need to reject the idea that there is somehow shame or inferiority associated with these careers and encourage more of our young people to look into them if they are well suited.

Logistics work is one of them, and many folks in Suffolk would do well to look into the programs offered by our local community colleges.