Pride was in heavy supply one evening last week as 165 high school seniors and their loved ones gathered together at the University of Louisville for a celebration of sorts. The occasion? These hard working young people were graduating from this year’s UPS School-to-Work program.
With School-to-Work, high school seniors gain valuable work experience and earn college credits by working afternoon shifts as UPS package handlers and taking a college course twice a week in the UPS Training and Education Center located on UPS property.
Throughout the graduation celebration, students and their guests heard from fellow graduates who spoke of both the joys and occasional pains of working as package handlers at the company’s all-points international hub Worldport, located in Louisville, Ky. The evening’s keynote speaker, UPS Flight Training Captain Houston Mills, shared his personal insights on how passion, perseverance and practice lead to success.
Among the joys were, according to graduate Amanda Reyes, learning responsibility, building character and getting a dose of reality. Among the pains, she declared, were sore limbs and crowded shuttle rides from the parking lot to her work area “when it was really sticky out.” But for Reyes, the benefits far outweighed any minor aggravation because she doesn’t have to worry about how she will pay for college.
Reyes and all her fellow School-to-Work graduates are encouraged to pursue college careers and can transfer into the company’s Metropolitan College program. She chose to pursue Metro College.
With Metropolitan College, half of tuition is paid by city and state governments, Jefferson Community and Technical College and the University of Louisville. The other half is paid by UPS. Metro College students earn the same pay, health and financial benefits as other UPS employees. In return, students work part-time in the company’s Next Day Air operation with a start time between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.
With the increasing price of post-secondary education, one might ask why UPS provides such a program. UPS values an educated workforce and the return on investment from its education programs is substantial.
Employee retention numbers at Worldport have improved dramatically. What was once an 80 to 90% turnover rate in some areas is now an 80 to 90% retention rate.
UPS has the employees it needs to run its massive package operation in Louisville while the city and state benefit from an educated workforce.
For more information on UPS Metropolitan College, check out metro-college.com/ups.