Logistics training picks up speed at TMCC | nnbusinessview.com

Logistics training picks up speed at TMCC

One industry that has benefited from Northern Nevada's surging economy is the logistics sector.

However, one issue companies in the industry are constantly facing is finding skilled individuals to fill the abundance of jobs in the market.

To help bridge that gap, last year Truckee Meadows Community College added a Bachelor of Applied Science in Logistics Operations Management degree program into its logistics degree curriculum.

"It's difficult to find non-skilled workers, let alone the skilled four-year graduates with a real background in logistics," Darryl Bader, president of warehouse at ITS Logistics said in an interview at the company's facility in Sparks.

Brian Addington, an instructor in TMCC's logistics management program, said the introduction of the four-year program gives companies incentive to find local talent rather than outside the market as well as foster skills necessary in the industry. He added the program now allows students to work toward a certificate or degree that coincides with their skill level in the workplace.

"We got a very tight labor market for local new hires," Addington told the NNBW. "This program allows companies to develop their own people from the floor up rather than having to look outside the market, say in San Francisco, or compete with all the other local companies (in Northern Nevada) to fill positions."

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The specific degrees now offered by TMCC are Certificate of Applied Industrial Technologies and Logistics Management, Associate of Applied Science in Production Systems and Logistics Management along with the bachelor's program.

"What we've found is that students who come from a background from a traditional logistics business curriculum, there's typically a gap between their skills and what specific needs there are at companies like ours," Bader said.

One of the advantages of program is that it incorporates hands-on field research and internships with participating companies such as ITS, allowing them to pinpoint skills necessary at various companies. Students will also be paired with mentors who work in the field.

A centerpiece of that collaboration between the business and academic communities is the introduction of the college's Frank N. Bender Center for Applied Logistics Management (CALM), a new facility that opened this past spring in south Reno. The facility will aid in training students and, in turn, provide outreach, education and resources for those in the logistics industry.

A Business Advisory Board, consisting of local leaders in the logistics community, also was created to address issues such as workforce needs the industry is facing.

"It was clear the demand was there in the logistics industry. It was clear those in the industry were willing to step up and add value to an experiential program," Karin Hilgersom, TMCC president, said in an interview on the college's Dandini campus.

"There's a very strong integration between industry and the logistics program education, more than just an internship. What's nice about that program is graduates will have a job ready waiting for them before they graduate. That's also education and training these companies don't have to provide, because TMCC was ready to create skilled talent."

TMCC began offering the four-year degree program beginning with the fall 2016 semester, albeit with limited publicity. Now that it is has been established, the next step is a full-on marketing push.

"We're just in the very beginning stages of getting the word out because this is one of the first four-year programs we have. We started putting the word out through video promotion, print, digital, some targeted marketing working with a local public relations firm to market the programs," said Elena Bubnova, TMCC's associate vice president of marketing, research, and Web services. "We want to target employers, or those working in the industry to upgrade their skills, as well as any recent high school students that might be interested."

TMCC already featured associates degree programs in logistics, but the addition gives the college the only four-year logistics program offered in the state. The University of Nevada, Reno formerly offered a similar degree program, but the Nevada Board of Regents voted to drop it in 2010.

Logistics, which includes wholesale, transportation and warehouse trades, is only expected to grow as technological-driven companies continue to influx the Northern Nevada region. Currently, the logistics industry accounts for 12 percent of the jobs in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area. Statistics provided by TMCC and compiled by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation also show the number of the logistics companies in Northern Nevada grew 9.3 percent from 486 in 2010 to 531 by 2015. The national average yearly salary in the industry is $70,534.

"Getting the word out in our region is very hard, although we have groups who have come together to address this communication challenge," Dr. Hilgersom said.

There is a prevailing sense that logistics, with its integration in technological concepts, can be appealing for tech-savvy younger generations as well as military veterans who often already have experience during their years of service.

"When we try to explain this to high school students, we emphasize it is a very exciting field to get into, Bubnova said. "We are trying to explain to the prospective students that the world is a lot smaller with all the technology out there. The craft of logistics is very exciting in today's economy."

For information on the program, visit: logistics.tmcc.edu.