Gap widens between training programs and supply chain jobs

Staff Report
Published Jan. 9, 2013

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A shortage of people trained in supply chain management and logistics is on the horizon for the Southeast and the rest of the country, according to a recent report from Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics.

The report, which analyzed U.S. Labor Department data, found that the United States will generate about 270,200 logistics-related job openings each year through 2018.

Page Siplon, director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics
Page Siplon, director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics

But the nation’s 7,600 colleges and technical schools only will be able to fill 75,300 or 28% of the openings with “formally trained, degreed or certified workers annually,” the report said.

The need for trained supply chain workers will be critical in the Southeast, the report said. It projected that by 2018, about 466,000 or roughly 42% of all new jobs in the supply chain industry will be in the Southeast.

“We’ve identified a pretty staggering gap,” said Page Siplon, the logistics center’s executive director, a shortage of at least 195,000 qualified logistics employees.

“It’s no surprise,” he said. “The supply chain industry is growing pretty fast, and as the economy grows so do supply chain needs and the amount of freight we move all over the world. There are big gaps in how we’re going to meet future demand.”

The growth will be led mainly by Georgia and Alabama, according to the report.

Georgia’s logistics industry alone will generate 9,500 job openings per year, each year until 2018, for an annual growth of 18% compared with the national average of 13%, according to the report.

Alabama’s logistics industry is projected to grow at an annual rate of 11.5% through 2018; South Carolina, 3%; North Carolina 2.5%, and Florida, 1.5%.

Nearly half of the new jobs will be in warehousing and distribution, followed by trucking, operations management, and industrial engineering.

The perils of not investing in logistics education and training would be comparable to the failure to invest in highways, ports and bridges, the report said.

Either would undermine the competitiveness of U.S. businesses on a global scale over the long-term and hamper near-term growth. The shortfall in filling logistics and supply chain jobs could impact both corporate revenues and consumer costs, Siplon said.

The rapid growth of e-commerce and the evolution of logistics software create a need for more technologically savvy employees, Siplon said.

“Conditions created by new technology, government regulations and increasing demands from consumers to always deliver products faster, better and cheaper will require a workforce that has the skills and real-world training to meet this demand,” he said. “This will have a profound impact on companies of all types and sizes.”

The need to fill logistics and supply jobs must take on a sense of urgency and be addressed as a national problem, said Siplon, who also serves on U.S. Commerce Department’s Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness.

“If we’re going to really focus and realize that supply chains and logistics play an important role in U.S. competitiveness, we need to recognize that and measure that at the federal level,” Siplon said.

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