Finding affordable, qualified, entry-level employees is a critical challenge facing industrial distributors, as well as manufacturers who sell through distribution.

In response, the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) Foundation (the charitable arm of PTDA) launched a major workforce development project in 2000. The Foundation is partnering with 19 distribution associations, including HARDI, two manufacturer associations and two regional development organizations to introduce an industrial distribution curriculum at community colleges and technical schools in the United States and Canada.

The core curriculum focuses on distributor business operations while electives deliver product-specific education for various segments. Subjects include computer keyboarding and applications; business writing and math; customer service and sales; introduction to distribution; principles of marketing; blueprint reading; and mechanical, electrical and fluid power transmission basics.

The objectives of The Industrial Careers Pathway are to:

  • Recruit entry-level employees to the industrial distribution channel.
  • Develop programs to teach business, technical and distribution basics.
  • Create affordable resources for current employee development.

To achieve these objectives, the Foundation and its partners are:

  • Focusing on community colleges and technical schools.
  • Emphasizing broad-based, sectoral support to achieve the necessary critical mass of employers.
  • Basing the curriculum on research on essential qualities of successful inside and outside sales personnel.
  • Using school partners' available course catalogs where possible.
  • Utilizing a pilot site model to implement the curriculum and apply lessons learned to future sites.
  • Partnering with local employers to ensure necessary buy-in and ongoing support.
  • Creating links with local community organizations to avoid duplicating available services and benefit the entire community.
  • Investing in additional organizational capacity as needed.