A group of company leaders is pushing to improve the entry-level logistics workforce in Savannah – an effort many consider crucial as the port expands.

The group is called the Maritime Logistics Education Task Force. It brings local school systems and port businesses together for an internship program.

MLET celebrated the end of the most recent internship program Tuesday, with the graduation of 18 students.

For 10 weeks, the students from Chatham and Effingham counties were paid to spend their afternoons exploring careers in logistics.

“This mirrors Gov. Nathan Deal’s Go Build Georgia program – connecting industry with education to make our state more competitive,” said David Mihuta, president of the task force.

Mihuta said improving the local workforce has to come before the port is deepened and gets busier.

“There’s a disconnect,” said Mihuta. “If I can’t unload the containers, why bring them? There is an urgency on the business community’s part. Just because you start work with us at $12 an hour as a fork lift operator, it doesn’t mean you have to retire that way. There’s plenty of opportunity for growth.”

Some of the students who graduated from the internship program were offerred full-time jobs.

The task force wants to get the word out about next Spring’s internships. They are looking for juniors and seniors in Chatham and Effingham counties to apply. Students can ask their guidance counselors for application information.