When the U.S. Roadmap for Material Handling & Logistics hosts its Supply Chain Workforce Summit at ProMat 2015, a series of speakers and discussion panels will explore best practices in how to find, train and retain the supply chain workforce of the future.
The Roadmap devoted an entire section to the twin challenges faced by the industry: demographics and skill sets. A rapidly changing workforce, inadequately defined career paths, and a lack of industry appeal to potential labor pools are key demographic challenges. Skills challenges include a training and education network too small to meet projected demand for skilled workers, inadequate skills of both existing and incoming workers, and a poorly connected training and education network.
“Between now and 2018, there will be 1.4 million new jobs across the operational, engineering and management employment sectors in the material handling, logistics and supply chain field,” says Daniel Stanton, MHI Vice President of Education and Professional Development. “MHI and our partners are working to foster stronger connections between education and industry to ensure that the right workforce training and education programs are in place to help our industry succeed in overcoming these issues.”
Stanton leads MHI’s educational and professional development programming and outreach. The development of the Roadmap and the Supply Chain Workforce Summit are just a portion of the work MHI is doing to tackle the workforce crisis.
MHI is networking aggressively to build partnerships with other industry-allied associations, and is working to further expand existing relationships with educators at four-year universities through its College-Industry Council on Material Handling Education. Additionally, MHI collaborates with technical and community colleges and high schools nationwide through its Career & Technical Education Program.
Programs and certifications in development
“A highly-skilled workforce drives economic growth and would be a key factor in restoring America’s dominance in the global marketplace,” asserts Colleen Molko, executive director of the National Center for Supply Chain Technology Education (SCTE), headquartered at Norco College.
Established in 2011 as an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Center under a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the SCTE’s goal is to increase the nation’s number of skilled supply chain technicians. These workers install, operate, support, upgrade or maintain the software, hardware, automated equipment and systems that support the supply chain.
It’s a wide field of expertise, Molko notes, citing the range of skills and knowledge a supply chain technician must possess. “It includes experience in mechanics, manufacturing, microprocessors, controls and electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic power supplies—and more,” she says.
There are workers in the field today, labeled by a range of job titles such as “industrial maintenance mechanic” or “mechatronics technician.” This complicates the determination of what skills are needed to succeed in the job, and whether or not a potential candidate possesses those skills.
By Carol Miller, MHI Vice President of Marketing and Communications Services