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Transportation Logistics: Veterans Ready to Roll into this Accelerating Field

by Sarah Whitman, Contributing Writer

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Article Sponsored by: Spartan College

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UPS believes that hiring veterans is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do. That’s because veterans and those currently serving in the military have always contributed to the success of the 109-year-old company.

“Veterans help make UPS a more competitive and successful company,” says Lloyd Knight, Director of Government, Aerospace and Project Cargo for UPS Supply Chain Solutions. “Hiring veterans is an investment in our business.”

UPS currently employs 25,000 veterans, reservists and National Guard, making up about eight percent of the company’s 435,000-person workforce. With a company of UPS’s size, responsibilities can vary widely, from loading trucks to flying planes to even working as pharmacists. Although Knight can’t pinpoint exactly how many of those veterans are working in logistics-specific roles, almost all of the company’s employees fulfill some type of logistics duty, given that UPS’s mission is to serve the logistics needs of its customers.

Skills That Make Veterans a Good Fit for Logistics Work
Because U.S. military organizations operate some of the most sophisticated supply chains in the world, it’s likely that many veterans have gained supply chain and logistics-related experience but may not be fully aware of the transferable skills they already possess. The American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS), the largest professional association in the world for supply chain management, publishes competency models for a variety of supply chain roles. APICS Chief Executive Officer, Abe Eshkenazi (CSCP, CPA, CEA) says these models define the knowledge, skills, abilities and traits required to perform critical work functions or tasks for specific job roles, and are a good starting point for someone interested in learning about the skills required for various supply chain and logistics roles.

UPS’s Knight, a mentor for America Corporate Partners and a volunteer for Hire Heroes USA, notes UPS’s core values include integrity, teamwork, service and safety – qualities that are often engrained in service members and that translate easily to logistics roles in the private sector. In addition, he has found that many veterans are highly skilled and have received world-class leadership and management training, making them a great fit for logistics work.

Logistics Workforce Trends
According to the U.S. Roadmap for Material Handling & Logistics, there is a strong need to develop the U.S. workforce to meet the needs of the logistics industry, which is a rapidly growing employment sector. Eshkenazi says APICS research shows that there are about 300,000 logistics professionals in the United States, and the field is growing at four percent annually. He says the Bureau of Labor Statistics also pegs transportation and logistics as the second largest employment sector in the United States with more than six million people. Additionally, according to the Georgia Centers for Innovation (, the field will generate 270,000 new jobs annually through at least 2018. At the current job creation rate, that represents more than 10 percent of all new jobs in the U.S. for the next few years.

Advice for Transitioning Veterans

For transitioning veterans who want to take advantage of these opportunities, Knight advises starting the transition early and allowing time for research.

“There are a lot of resources out there, so finding the best one that can help your specific transition takes time,” he says. He also cautions service members not to pay for transition services, recruiters or resume writers because there are many nonprofits that can provide highly effective services for free.

In addition, he says many service members create a great resume but fail to tailor it to the specific position they are applying for. “You greatly lower your odds of moving from the resume review stage to the interview stage if you do not tailor your resume,” Knight says.

He has also noticed that transitioning service members sometimes fail in translating their skills. “The overuse of military acronyms, jargon and terminology hampers a successful job search more than a lack of required skills,” he says.

Eshkenazi advises transitioning service members to create education and career plans that include gaining knowledge of the transportation, distribution and logistics fields.

“They should also identify any gaps in their skills and complete professional development activities, including certifications programs, to address them,” he says. “Through this process, they’ll be more attractive candidates and, once hired, they’ll be promoted and start on a path to management and leadership positions.”

Eshkenazi points out that women are underrepresented in the supply chain, logistics and manufacturing workforce. He believes that with manufacturing facing an estimated two million worker shortfall over the next decade, it’s a good time for female veterans to seize opportunities in these roles.

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