Archives for January 2010

Thoughts on Developing the Future Logistics Workforce

By Herb Shields | 01/07/2010 | 6:09 PM

I don’t know how many people read the article by Toby Gooley “Building a Logistics Savvy Workforce” in the December issue of DC Velocity, but it struck a chord with me.  What my “blog bio” does not cover is the experience I have had over the past 6 or 7 years working in and around Chicago on the issue of logistics education at the high school, community college, and college level.  In brief, we have similar initiatives to those mentioned in the article.  Projects sponsored by private industry, workforce boards, and local not-for-profit organizations all trying to create a coordinated effort between industry and educational professionals to make more happen.

In 2003, I helped develop a Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics program at Daley College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago.  The program took years to establish and today is still not attracting enough students.  Daley sits among many distribution and warehouse facilities on the south side of Chicago, but has not made any connections.  Nor have the companies reached out to the College/

In 2004, the Chicago Public Schools with leadership from Arne Duncan and Jill Wine-Banks started a Logistics pilot program in three high schools.  Pepsico, Federal Mogul, CSCMP, Workforce Boards, and WERC all lent people and time to this effort.  Today the program continues in one high school.

In 2005, I was one of several education and industry people who wrote a series of training modules for the Illinois State Office of Education which are available to teachers of high school students on a state-wide basis.  Motorola, Walgreens, and Caterpillar all participated in this effort.

In 2004, I started to teach as an adjuct faculty member in the Industrial Technology and Management school at the Illinois Institute of Technology where under the leadership of Dr. Keith McKee we developed a logistics program for both undergraduates articulating from community colleges and graduate engineers who recognize that they need to understand the concept of global supply chains and logistics.  We are fortunate to have attracted students from countries around the world.  At the four year and graduate levels, there are many excellent programs in universities all over the USA.  The problem is developing more interested students who will eventually take advantage of these programs

As a participant in the items above, plus others, it became clear to me that we have not solved three basic problems:

  • Parents or heads of households do not understand the world of logistics and therefore do not encourage their children to consider it as a career path while they are in high school or community colleges.
  • There is no over-all standard or direction that would eliminate a lot of re-inventing the wheel activity.
  • Industry and educators have lots of dialogue on this opportunity.  But after much discussion, there is often no action.  So educators develop what they think industry needs in terms of specific logistics training, while industry really wants people who can do math, read and write English, use computers, and understand what it takes to be a good employee for entry level logistics jobs.

I welcome your thoughts, comments, and ideas on this subject.  It is critical because finding enough qualified people is already in most top ten’s when supply chain and logistics management people are asked to list their concerns.  As Toby said in her article, if we can get this right, everybody wins.

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Herb Shields

Herb Shields

Herb Shields has run Chicago-based HCS Consulting since 2000, helping clients across multiple industries and in higher education improve their supply chain strategy and execution. Shields has more than 30 years as an operations executive for capital equipment, automotive, electrical machinery and consumer products companies. As vice president of materials management at consumer goods company Helene Curtis, Shields led the supply chain organization that helped Helene Curtis win "Vendor of the Year" awards from Wal-Mart Stores and Target Corp. Shields has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Clarkson University and did graduate work in business at Bowling Green State University.


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