Learning for Earnings

When this magazine made its commitment to logistics education in 1990, few undergraduate or graduate logistics studies programs were available. That is not the case today.

Logistics undergraduate, post-graduate, and continuing education programs have expanded a hundredfold. MIT, for example, has seen an application growth of 20 percent annually over the last five years, reports Dr. Chris Caplice, executive director, Master of Engineering in Logistics Program.

That is a good thing, given our growing population and corollary need for more high-paying jobs—both in the United States and by sharing modern logistics practices around the world.

Logistics education continues to change and grow, responding to demand. Here’s a report card:

Undergraduate programs. In the past, logistics programs emphasized the theoretical, sometimes leaving grads adrift, or forced to rely on on-the-job training when faced with real logistics tasks.

Today, logistics courses bulk up the practical information, tapping adjunct professors and using internships to provide some grit.

Courses also cover the “basics of transportation,” notes John Taylor, assistant professor of logistics, Grand Valley State University. The curricula now tackles global issues as well, says Robert Trent, associate professor of management, Lehigh University.

These curriculum changes translate to real-world benefits. High schools even recommend logistics as a career path, and many companies including Con-Way, CRST, and Cardinal Logistics, offer more logistics scholarships.

Continuing education.Post-graduate and continuing education programs teach old transportation management dogs new tricks, helping them land better jobs, earning higher salaries.

Continuing logistics education helps flesh out real experience with the latest theories and practices, transforming silo experience into strategic know-how.

The result? Employees are more marketable, and often get placed faster if the corporate axe falls. Some decide to hang up a shingle, and feed the growing demand for logistics consultants.

World-class companies now “get” the benefits of paying for their employees’ continuing education. “Firms that do not keep abreast of state-of-the art knowledge face a great risk of being left behind,” notes Scott Webster, a supply chain management professor at Syracuse University.

Many companies now pay for continuing education; a few even grant time for employees to attend courses. For those who can’t leave their desks, online and video logistics courses are readily available, notes Dick Lancioni, logistics professor at Temple University.

If you are involved in logistics education in any way, and want to comment, please drop us a line: [email protected].

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