Not too long ago, transporting cargo was a relatively simple affair. Freight was picked up at a loading dock, transferred to a truck for delivery to ship or airplane, with a reverse process at destination. Today, freight is no longer simply freight. It is part of an intricate supply chain process that is a vital component of a company’s financial, sales & marketing goals.

As in any human endeavor, a supply chain is only as good as the people who link it together.

Who are these people?

They are the men and women numbering in the millions making globalization of commerce and industry a reality. The great majority of these people belong to the international freight forwarding community who act as vital partners to shipping companies and airlines. Their primary purpose: to ensure the $1 trillion transportation industry operates in a smooth and efficient manner. This vast body of workers known as freight forwarders or to use the currently trendy term, logistics providers, requires skill, knowledge—and training.

Where do these freight forwarders or logistics providers receive the necessary training to handle properly their work loads?

Historically, freight forwarders have preferred an informal, almost apprenticeship system whereby young men and women worked alongside more experienced personnel to train and “learn the ropes.” This system generally was adequate when a forwarder’s prime job was simply to move freight from Point A to Point B. Today, that informal, uncomplicated approach does not suffice. More organized training is necessary to create, plan and implement supply chain strategies that may stretch across 10,000 miles and three continents.

One transportation company, DGX-Dependable Global Express and its two sister companies; DHX-Dependable Hawaiian Express and DAX-Dependable AirCargo Express, are providing a formal training program for its employees to meet today’s logistics needs. With offices at Rancho Dominguez, an industrial suburb of Los Angeles, the 27-year old company is involved in air, sea and land transportation with company owned and operated facilities worldwide. The program is designed to advance the skills of both employees with some experience in freight forwarding and trainees whose only previous knowledge of the cargo business was passing trucks on the freeway.

The courses, held in classrooms on company grounds, include learning the fundamentals of freight forwarding, the newest requirements in government security, and general trends in the industry. It is under the supervision of Cammie Laster, Vice President, Corporate Training, Quality & Services, herself a 25-year veteran of the cargo industry. “We try and give our students a grounding in the nuts & bolts in how to operate a forwarding business combined with learning thoroughly security procedures that now are so vital in freight traffic between the US and its trading partners,” asserted Ms. Laster.

The training program also includes the joint efforts of DGX and El Camino College, a local community college well known for its workforce development. “While our classroom has all the modern, electronic aids in teaching, it is the human element that is most important,” stated the DGX executive. “Our teachers develop great rapport with our students. They provide caring, comprehensive instruction for our employees, many of whom are unfamiliar with the many skills required for the functioning of a modern freight forwarding organization.”

Ms. Laster noted that all classroom instruction is given on company time with employees on full salary while they learn. She reports that the educational background of DGX employees taking instruction covers a wide range—from college graduates to those who hold a high school diploma. “Yet, all have improved skills since attending classes and have become more effective employees,” Ms. Laster asserted.

Currently, about 80 employees are enrolled in classroom studies.

“Since our formal training program began almost two years ago, employee productivity has increase