FedEx Ground opens its doors to Educator in the Workforce

For Natalie Grattan, a Social Studies teacher at Baldwin Whitehall High School who’s involved in shaping a career learning course, a visit to FedEx Ground provided some needed talking points.

“After coming here today, we have more concrete things we can say” to combat the “traditional mentality that everybody has to go to college,” she said during a debriefing at the kickoff session for our Educator in the Workforce program. “We learned about people from all different backgrounds, some who started out of high school and became managers.”

Along with presentations during the site visit, FedEx used a “speed networking” session to connect teachers, counselors and administrators with representatives from eight different departments to learn about the kinds of jobs they offer. A tour of the company’s Moon Township headquarters, which, alone employs 2,000, also gave participants a glimpse of additional departments.

Like Grattan, other participants generally expressed surprise at the number of positions available without degrees, FedEx Ground’s policy of promoting even entry-level hires, and the availability of tuition support for employees seeking college degrees.

Providing opportunities for “cross training” and advancement “is something we really pride ourselves in,” said the company’s Vice President for Human Resources, Denise Abbott, noting that an employee starting at the entry level, as a package handler, can be promoted to a front-line operations manager, for example. She said FedEx also has taken the tuition support it offers a step further than many employers, providing the benefit as soon as employees enroll in a course, rather than upon completion. “

“It’s a game-changer,” Abbott said, noting that many entry-level employees can’t front the money themselves.

The visit also gave educators and FedEx Ground representatives an opportunity to exchange ideas for future collaboration.

Noting that his district already has “work study” arrangements with FedEx Ground competitor, United Parcel Service, Yough High School Principal Brian Sutherland suggested, for example, that FedEx Ground’s New Stanton, PA facility might serve as a venue for students who want to gain work experience while still in school.

Several educators also said FedEx could help their students with job-shadows or classroom speakers. FedEx representatives entertained the ideas and signaled interest in partnerships.

Following FedEx, the Consortium plans an additional 13 site visits for participants in Educator in the Workforce during the current school year.