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Homegrown Talent

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Homegrown Talent

Homegrown Talent

Jessica Waters practices her skills on the forklift through a job training program offered by Johns Hopkins’ Supply Chain Institute. Upon completing the program last spring, Waters was hired by Johns Hopkins as a supply coordinator.

Date: 01/19/2017

Jessica Waters has her heart set on driving a forklift at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. The 23-year-old East Baltimore native has numerous relatives employed across the medical campus and hopes to join them. “I love Johns Hopkins,” she says. “I’ve seen what it’s done for my family.”

Under her teacher’s careful instructions, she climbs into the driver’s seat of a bright yellow forklift truck, disengages the parking brake and shifts the beast into reverse.

She and eight classmates are the first-ever students of the Supply Chain Institute, a job training partnership between Johns Hopkins and Baltimore City Community College. They’ll all take a turn on the forklift today, though not all share Waters’ enthusiasm for industrial machinery. Instead, they can choose to pursue other tracks the program offers, such as logistics and occupational safety.

The institute is located several blocks from the Johns Hopkins Hospital campus. Over eight weeks in spring 2016, nine men and women between the ages of 18 and 23 spent six hours a day learning the complexities of the different disciplines within supply chain. At the end of the course, Johns Hopkins and other employers interviewed the new graduates for possible positions.

Graduation from the institute is intended to serve as the first step on a career path, rather than mere training for an entry-level job.

Desmond Jackson, director of patient accounts in Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Patient Financial Services Department, says the Supply Chain Institute idea was inspired by the HopkinsLocal initiative to hire more city residents from underserved neighborhoods. “We have such a constant need for good employees in our supply chain,” he says. “We’ve always wanted to get folks trained and ready to go. But it wasn’t practical to start our own school for it.”

Jackson initiated conversations with Baltimore City Community College. Each supplied instructors for the institute, with Johns Hopkins staffers handling the hospital-specific topics and community college faculty members teaching the rest of the program, such as “bridge” classes, which help students brush up on basic computer skills and other job readiness categories.

The institute offered training to two cohorts of students in 2016 and is hoping to expand in 2017, Jackson says.

Johns Hopkins is also developing a Certified Logistics Associate training program for current supply chain employees, which will provide instruction in global supply chain logistics, safety principles, logistics and transportation, material handling equipment, and workplace communication.