Patterson, CA is right off Interstate 5. It’s roughly an hour and a half from the San Francisco Bay, and the high property values in the nearby city have made the town of roughly 20,000 an ideal place for an increasing number of distribution centers—especially large ones. There’s only one challenge: Many of the younger generation coming up, the future workforce, are a single generation from migrant workers. Their parents have picked apricots and tomatoes, and for many of them, the idea of working in supply chain conjures up nothing more than visions of dirty, dark warehouses and long, hard hours of labor—if any images at all.
Helping these familiesunderstand the depth and variety of careers available can be as challenging as helping the industry’s companies understand the worth in reaching out. Collaboration between companies, universities, twoyear colleges, high schools and government entities is key, for both the industry and the communities it serves.
“The biggest surprise to me, and it might sound contradictory, is how important the workforce is from the perspective of businesses looking at locating here,” said Philip Alfano, superintendent of Patterson Joint Unified School District. “I sat in on a site selector meeting, and that issue was front and center. I would have thought they’d be looking at tax incentives, the cost of land, the proximity to transportation centers, that sort of thing. That’s all important, but what’s most important to these businesses is a qualified workforce.”
It’s no secret that Baby Boomers are retiring at a rapid pace—and that there aren’t enough trained workers in younger generations to fill their spots. As in other industries, the challenge is real in supply chain and material handling. Research from Deloitte Consulting LLP showed that some forecast the demand for supply chain professionals could exceed supply by a ratio of six to one.
By Fiona Soltes