Within the Workforce section of the U.S. Roadmap for Material Handling & Logistics: Version 2.0—starting on page 42—there are several proposed measures for improving the skills of the people needed to join the industry in order to sustain its success between now and 2030. Among them, the authors advocate for more effective education and training, and tighter collaborations between industry and academia. Indeed, the report specifically “puts an onus on educational institutions to more precisely train its students for the supply chain workplace.”
Among the recommended steps are a greater emphasis within primary and secondary schools on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects, as well as a curriculum that actively exposes students to careers in supply chain, material handling and logistics.
Further, Roadmap 2.0 says:
Educational institutions should invite more practitioners into their classrooms to expose students to real-world supply chain operations and challenges. Conversely, businesses should involve more students in their operations by offering more coo-op positions, internships, and externships (working on campus for an off-site company). Businesses should also sponsor more student projects to give students exposure to real-world supply chain operations and challenges.
If you’re wondering what such a program looks like in actuality, look no further than the partnership formed between MHI member Panther Industries in Highlands Ranch, CO, and its neighbor STEM School Highlands Ranch. Their evolving relationship has benefited both the school’s students and Panther, and was profiled in the fourth quarter issue of MHI Solutions Magazine.
“We have a gap in the talent workforce here in the South Denver metro area,” explains Christian Dow, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Panther. “Although we’ve been looking to add employees as our business has grown, we were having difficulty finding qualified applicants in our immediate area.”
Dow reached out to Mike Shallenberger, Department Chair of Engineering at the school to initially set up a tour. From there, the partnership has blossomed into what Shallenberger calls “a great symbiotic relationship.”
Among the different aspects, Panther’s engineering manager has taught a best practices class to students, assigning them homework relevant to the company’s operations. So pleased with the students’ work, Panther created three paid summer internships in mechanical design, marketing, and service and assembly during 2017, and expects to add two more in 2018. The company also sponsors one of the school’s many robotics teams and provides judges to help evaluate student efforts at competitions.
Additionally, Dow and Shallenberger are working together to bring more “real-world” supply chain scenarios into the contests, developing a new national Technology Student Association (TSA) competition to further strengthen the workforce of the future and increase its exposure to supply chain.
“[Panther’s] input allows me to verify that my curriculum is meeting industry needs,” concludes Shallenberger. “It validates my program, and I even see my students working harder and applying themselves more once they’ve seen how the skills they’ve developed apply to real-world challenges.”
Want to learn more about the partnership between Panther Industries and STEM School Highlands Ranch? The article is located here.