December 2012 | Commentary | Smart Moves

Logistics: It’s Where The Jobs Are

Tags: Education & Careers

Dr. Jennifer S. Batchelor is Program Director, Transportation and Logistics Management, American Public University System.

Effectively managing human capital is more vital than ever to businesses and organizations, and higher education will continue to play a critical role in training the next generation of transportation and logistics management (TLM) leaders.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects increases in TLM occupation employment growth and replacement needs, which are on the rise due to individuals in the field retiring, transitioning into new fields, or leaving the workforce.

Promising career opportunities await new TLM professionals within the decade. According to the labor bureau's estimates:

  • Transportation and materials handling careers are up 15 percent, and will create 1.3 million new positions.
  • Retail trade logistics employment is up 12 percent, and will create more than 1.8 million new jobs.
  • Transportation and warehousing is up by 20 percent, and will generate 853,000 new jobs.
  • Overall, high-level logistics management employment will increase by a modest projection of seven percent within the next seven years.

This growth creates a need for educational programs to help fill job openings with a skilled and knowledgeable workforce. The American Public University System (APUS) created its Industry Advisory Council to work collaboratively with industry experts to address current and evolving trends in the industry, and integrate them into the APUS curriculum. Leaders from organizations such as the General Services Administration, a leading international shipping company, and a maritime association have contributed to this discussion.

Among the insights gained are that automation will drive many new logistics jobs, and warehousing will require technology skills not often covered in new employee training.

Leadership Know-How

The need for education goes beyond entry-level workers, however. C-level executives need to know more than just the basics about TLM. For logisticians looking to enhance their career growth prospects, gaining specialized knowledge through advanced coursework is vital.

Any formal education or training in TLM needs to tie into supply managers' everyday experiences. Content has to be geared to the real world to help make that critical connection.

Leadership expertise will be more vital than ever for logisticians at the tactical, strategic, and operational levels. Employees need to understand processes and build efficiencies, while motivating others through leadership.

Focus Areas

In addition to the importance of advanced education and leadership training, the following specialty areas represent top priorities for the logistics sector:

  • Environmental concerns. Hazardous materials regulations and public policy issues shape logistics and transportation operations.
  • Technological support. Tools such as RFID and track-and-trace capabilities are key to account and shipment management.
  • Quality control. Purchasing agents, and storage and distribution managers are in demand because of concerns about sourcing, domestic threats, and international terrorism.

At APUS, we often discuss the "perfect process" concept, which allows students to consider a three-dimensional view of logistics. Isn't that the goal for all of us?

Leadership at all levels of the transportation and logistics profession will be critical as we hire and train new talent, communicate with upper management, and look to a future of fast growth in technology applications.