February 2008 | Commentary | Checking In

Training Daze

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The importance of logistics education is often overlooked and underrated, not only here in the United States, but abroad as well.

A reader alerted me to a Financial Times article skewering the state of logistics training in the United Kingdom: "Poor productivity and high staff turnover in the UK's logistics industry are undermining the competitiveness of business," says the article.

If you extend these failings to the global world we all compete in, Britain's global competitiveness is at stake as well.

Mick Jackson, the director of Skills for Logistics, a UK-based training firm, puts it this way: "The logistics industry is at the heart of the economy. Yet almost half the workforce falls below level two in qualifications. For the fifth largest sector of the fifth largest economy in the world, this is not something to be proud of."

Jackson notes that improved training helped DHL Aviation recoup $787,798 in savings by reducing turnover (66 percent) and boosting productivity (12 percent).

Winfield Transport, a regional carrier, reduced accidents, fuel expenditures, and insurance premiums with a similar approach. Aggregating these individual company wins across a country's economy can provide a crucial competitive differentiator.

The situation is better across the pond in the United States, as the importance of logistics and supply chain training and education—in the classroom and on the job, abroad and at home—is magnified as technology, strategy, and rules of engagement rapidly evolve.

It's why Inbound Logistics has produced an annual education issue for nearly two decades. As business trends fluctuate, our two-fold approach remains fixed: focusing on the strategic benefits of demand-driven logistics practices; and stressing the tactical importance of hands-on logistics training from high school to on-the-job edification.

This issue's cover story, Most Likely To Succeed, presents five vignettes of logisticians who are tapping distance-learning programs, certification courses, and undergraduate and post-graduate curricula to engage, and in some cases, re-engage new frontiers in learning.

I remember the days when logistics learning opportunities were scarce. Today, many schools and companies specialize in supply chain training and education. You'll find our Career Solutions section a great resource for researching education and career opportunities.

Finally, individual empowerment is exponentially increased when you have a good team. An emerging pool of experienced and disciplined talent from the U.S. military can make your team better.

That's why we are sponsoring a few reminders in this issue to hire a Gulf War veteran if you can.

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