Warehouse News

MRO Education: National industry certifications are closing the skills gap

To reap the full benefits of certifications, industry and academia have to continue to enhance their support.

Materials handling and logistics covers a range of technologies, from manual picking and packing to completely automated warehousing, storage, retrieval, distribution, including information transferring and coordination.

Although many of the basics have remained the same, technology, engineered solutions, controls and programming have all advanced over the past decades. The technician hired today needs advanced controls and programming skills in addition to the basic mechanical and electrical skills.

As a whole, the labor pool is getting older. This is a simple statistical fact because of the larger number of skilled workers that were involved in technical work over the past decades as compared to the smaller number of workers with these skills today. As the workforce ages, more and more technicians with important basic mechanical and electrical skills are retiring.

Until only recently, I have witnessed fewer and fewer people beginning this type of technical work. Within the past year, enrollments and graduation rates in the technical area have been increasing. It will take many years for this increase to offset those leaving.

Students who graduate from any technical program today probably have less hands-on experience than those that graduated years ago. While the technical program may include just as much hands-on lab time, the younger student probably has less real-world experience. When your TV last quit working, did you repair it, or did you get a new TV? When the starter on your car no longer started the engine, did you replace it with your son, or did you have someone at a shop do it? These basic mechanical skills are leaving the workforce as technicians retire.

Just as we outsource our TV repair to a knowledgeable third party, so have some organizations tried to outsource warehousing, fulfillment or maintenance. However, there is no outsourcing a response to the industry’s skilled labor shortage, which requires all hands on deck.

When hiring or engaging the services of technicians, it’s important to consider:

  • the educational level you need,
  • the skills the technician needs to have, and
  • the compensation that those skills are worth.

Many employers want a technician to know everything the retiring technician knows. This is impossible. Consider that the retiring technician developed these skills over the past many years. A two- or four-year college program cannot teach everything. Even with several programming classes, I can only teach the basics to my students—as compared to someone with 20 or more years of experience and training.

What does this mean to the employer? When you find a younger technician that has most of the skills you are looking for: Hire them. Then, start sending them to training—seminars, classes, trade shows and trips to tour manufacturer’s sites. Consider an educational program of your own. A qualified engineer can give a seminar to technicians about a new system or component. If your place of work is remote, this idea of teaching within the company is even more important.

Engagement with students and prospective hires

There are several ways to engage with future hires at a technical school or college. First, colleges usually have one or two career days or job fairs during the year. This is a good way for your company to get the word out, like a trade show at the local college level. Second, contact the deans or full-time faculty of the area that may be training technicians. If looking for maintenance technicians, they may have a program that teaches most of what you are looking for.

The college program may be called a variety of things:

  • Mechatronics>/li>
  • Automation, Industrial Technology
  • Industrial Maintenance, etc.

Faculty are usually more than willing to talk about their program, give you a tour of their spaces and introduce you to students. You may also be able to talk directly with the current students during one of the higher-level classes and do a quick presentation of your company and what you are looking for. If you are unable to find prospective employees with the right experience, start here.

Industry/academia relationship and engagement

Colleges with technical programs normally have meetings of steering committees. These may be informal lunches or more formalized meet and greets. Get involved in your local technical schools by contacting the deans and faculty of the appropriate area. Most faculty are well aware of the trends in the workplace and know what you need from students. Faculty will normally not change their entire program to meet your exact needs. They are trying to supply graduates that meet a range of needs to the community. If you have a more specific skill that is not being taught, talk to the faculty to see if other forms of training are available: seminars at the workplace, non-credit seminar at the school, etc. Not everything can be taught at the college level.

If, for instance, you had a brand new sorter table that seems like magic, or an HMI application and software that no one can troubleshoot, this type of specific application would take a trainer extensive time to research before training others at your facility. If your technicians need training on specific systems or components, the manufacturer can usually supply this.

In general, most technical and two-year schools train technicians to be more competent at troubleshooting and maintaining equipment. Some two-year schools are more geared toward design and supplying students to a local four-year college with a similar program. Each approach is a sound practice depending on the location and needs of the community.


About the Author

Shawn Ballee, assistant professor of industrial technology, Waubonsee Community College


Article Topics
Automation   Education   MRO   MRO December 2017   Talent   All topics


Comments
You must be logged in to post a comment. Login.

 
Latest Warehouse News
The Difference between a Traditional Warehouse and an OmniChannel Warehouse
The days of an ecommerce-dedicated warehouse are over, and warehouse managers must understand the necessity of new systems and processes to create omnichannel warehouses.

7 Reasons for Using Autonomous Robots in Your Warehouse
Here are the main reasons why your company needs to start integrating autonomous robots into its supply chain in 2018.

The Keys to a Future-Ready Automated Warehouse
Dramatic changes to the warehouse are just beginning. Data-driven, flexible and robotic automation solutions help improve performance today while retaining the agility to adapt to tomorrow’s changes.

9 Attributes Redefining the Warehouse of the Future
The continued growth of e-commerce, last mile delivery, and warehousing as a whole are driving significant demand for industrial properties and spurring innovation in how the assets are built and utilized.


 

24|7 Pro Team

The 24|7 Team is your direct pipeline to solutions for your business challenges. It's your opportunity to have supply chain and logistics experts look at your specific challenges and needs, and give you free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information.

The 24|7 Team will simplify the task of creating a database of likely partners, building your knowledge base, and preparing your Request for Proposal list.

1
  Choose a topic for your RFP

Transportation RFP/RFI

The Transportation RFP is your direct pipeline to solutions for your transportation challenges. It's your opportunity to have logistics experts look at your specific transportation challenges and needs, and give you free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information specific to your request.

Choosing the perfect software or system can be an indomitable challenge. Using this transportation/TMS RFP will simplify the task of creating a database of likely partners, building your knowledge base, and preparing your Request for Proposal list.

Warehouse/DC Management RFP/RFI

The Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) RFP is your direct pipeline to solutions for your WMS challenges. It's your opportunity to have logistics experts look at your specific WMS challenges and needs, and give you free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information specific to your request.

Choosing the perfect WMS solution can be an indomitable challenge. Using this WMS RFP will simplify the task of creating a database of likely partners, building your knowledge base, and preparing your WMS Request for Proposal list.

Supply Chain RFP/RFI

The Supply Chain RFP is your opportunity to have logistics experts look at your specific challenges and needs, and receive free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information. It simplifies finding a pool of likely partners, building your knowledge base, and preparing your Request for Proposal list. The companies in the Logistics Planner have agreed to respond to your request for in-depth information and follow-up, and your request is totally confidential.

Software/Technology RFP/RFI

The Software/Technology is your direct pipeline to solutions for your logistics information technology challenges. It's your opportunity to have logistics experts look at your specific technology challenges and needs, and give you free, no-obligation advice, solutions, and information specific to your request. Whether it's WMS, TMS, Mobile or Cloud, our pros can help.

The companies listed below have agreed to respond to your request for in-depth information and follow-up. Your request is totally confidential.

Executive Education RFI

The Logistics and Supply Chain Education RFI can help you identify the schools, coursework, continuing education, distance learning and certification opportunities available from leading logistics educational institutions.

Upgrade and improve your logistics and supply chain skillsets. Whatever route you choose—advanced degree, executive education, certification or distance learning—the time and money you invest in your education today can pay off in continued career success tomorrow. Contact leading universities and professional institutions for the information you need to prepare for the future.

Third Party Logistics RFP/RFI

This 3PL Request for Proposal (RFP)/Request for Information (RFI) can help you find the 3PL and 4PL providers that can meet your specific 3PL service challenges and needs. The 3PL companies below will provide free, no-obligation third-party logistics advice, solutions, and information.

Ask your 3PL questions, you'll get answers. Simply complete the information, and detail your 3PL challenges. Then, check off the third-party logistics companies that you want to review your request.

1. Choose an RFI topic.
2. Enter your contact information and challenge.
3. Select companies and optional categories.
4. Submit.


2

Your Information



Your Challenge, Problem or Request *

3

Select Transportation Companies

  • Select All

  • 3Gtms
  • BluJay Solutions
  • CSX Trans. Intermodal
  • Kuebix
  • Landstar
  • Legacy Supply Chain Svs.
  • One Network
  • Pitt Ohio
  • Purolator
  • Quintiq
  • SEKO Logistics
  • SMC3


Select Relevent Categories

  • Air Freight
  • Intermodal
  • Motor Freight
  • Ocean Freight
  • Rail Freight
  • TMS

Select Warehouse/DC Management Companies

  • Select All

  • 3PL Central
  • Apex Supply Chain Tech.
  • Honeywell Intelligrated
  • Kuebix
  • Legacy Supply Chain Svs.
  • Swisslog
  • Westfalia Technologies
  • Zebra Technologies


Select Relevent Categories

  • Auto ID & Data Capture
  • Automation
  • Conveyors & Sortation
  • Lift Trucks
  • Packaging & Labeling
  • Pallets & Containers
  • Shelving & Racking
  • WMS

Select Supply Chain Companies

  • Select All

  • 3Gtms
  • 3PL Central
  • Amber Road
  • Apex Supply Chain Tech.
  • APICS
  • BluJay Solutions
  • CSX Trans. Intermodal
  • Frontier Business
  • Kuebix
  • Landstar
  • Legacy Supply Chain Svs.
  • Logility
  • One Network
  • Purolator
  • Quintiq
  • SMC3
  • Synchrono
  • TAKE Supply Chain
  • Westfalia Technologies
  • Zebra Technologies


Select Relevent Categories

  • Global Trade
  • Inventory Management
  • Risk Management
  • Sustainability

Select Software/Technology Companies

  • Select All

  • 3GTMS
  • 3PL Central
  • Apex Supply Chain Tech.
  • BluJay Solutions
  • Honeywell Intelligrated
  • Frontier Business
  • Kuebix
  • Logility
  • One Network
  • Quintiq
  • SMC3
  • Swisslog Logistics
  • Synchrono
  • TAKE Supply Chain
  • Zebra Technologies


Select Relevent Categories

  • ERP
  • Sales & Operations
  • Sourcing/Procurement
  • Optimization
  • Transportation Mgmt
  • Warehouse Mgmt

Select Executive Education Choices

  • Select All

  • Graduate Courses
  • Online/Distance
  • Executive Education
  • Certifications
  • Undergraduate
  • Seminars
  • Associations
  • Conferences
  • Tradeshows


Select Third Party Logistics Companies

  • Select All

  • 3PL Central
  • Landstar
  • Legacy Supply Chain Svs.
  • Purolator
  • SEKO Logistics
  • Westfalia Technologies


4
 

24|7 Company Profiles