There are many opportunities for inmates to learn trades and skills inside DOC facilities, but Randy Millard is happy to teach one with immediate potential.
Since 2008, Millard has taught Warehousing Logistics and Forklift Operators at SCI Mahanoy. And he wants his students to know there are limitless opportunities on the outside.
"There are thousands of jobs for warehousing at warehouses or distribution centers right now (in Pennsylvania)," Millard said. "A lot of jobs in Pennsylvania for warehousing. When I get my students, I try to give them a lot of motivation to stay with the curriculum and stay with the course when they get out.
"It's going to benefit them."
Millard teaches two classes with 20 students in each. The six-month course is divided by three months of warehousing and another three of forklift operation. Inmates leave his course with two outside certifications: one is through Material Handling Institute of America and the second is a permit to drive a lift through Clark Life Trucks Inc.
Millard also recommends graduates of his course to Pennsylvania Correctional Industries for immediate jobs while they're still incarcerated.
While some of his students come in fresh, many already have some experience. Millard is able to take their experience further and teach them how and why everything works.
"My class teaches them why and how important it is, and it gives them a little drive to keep going," Millard said. "I've had several students come through who aren't very up on academics. I work with everyone who comes through my class to get them through."
Although difficult, Millard keeps tabs on his graduates as best he can—and it helps motivate him as he continues teaching new students.
"Once in a while I hear maybe a handful of stories of guys taking and using it in the field," he said. "It's always good to hear back 'This guy got a job with Amazon' or 'This guy is making this kind of money.'"
Warehousing students tend to be more focused since they don't have to be there. It's an optional course and they must meet certain criteria to take it—including having completed Pathways to Success, a DOC program that prepares inmates for reentry.
"That's a great tool to use to steer them in the right direction," Millard said. "A lot of guys in the prison have no vocational or job skills to fall back on, so that helps."
Millard began work at SCI Mahanoy in 1998 and worked in maintenance as the plumbing trades instructor for 10 years. In 2008, he switched to his current role as warehouse vocational instructor—a role he thoroughly enjoys.
"I enjoy teaching what I've learned," Millard said. "A lot of guys don't have the opportunity for someone to actually teach them or stick with them and help them obtain the knowledge they need to better themselves.
"I get a lot of satisfaction out of this and always have."