A new career major in global logistics and supply chain management is being planned by the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools.
An advisory committee of industry executives, academics and workforce development professionals has been formed to assist in the planning for the new major, which will be housed on the MCVTS Piscataway Campus. Classes are expected to begin next September, subject to state approval.
The first meeting of the advisory committee was convened by Superintendent of Schools Brian J. Loughlin on Dec. 14 in the MCVTS administrative offices on the East Brunswick Campus.
“We’re really excited about going down this path,” Loughlin said. “I certainly don’t know the intricacies of global logistics, but I know it’s a tremendous growth industry. We want to make sure we get it right.”
Sean McDonald, MCVTS director of career and technical education, said the industry offers jobs in transportation, distribution and logistics planning and management for the movement of goods by road, rail, air and sea. Jobs are available in administrative, technical and managerial support in the operation of warehouses, control of inventory, and customer service, he said.
McDonald said that New Jersey, and especially Middlesex County, are strategically located for companies involved in global and national trade, with demand for trained employees more plentiful here than elsewhere in the United States.
“We are looking for pathways for our students to get jobs when they graduate or to go on for more training,” McDonald said. “We want to have pathways for both.”
William McLaury, a professor at Rutgers University Business School who worked for more than 30 years in the industry, said there is demand for far more trained workers than schools and colleges are turning out. McDonald said New Jersey businesses are expected to create 13,000 more logistics jobs over the next eight years, in addition to a need for replacement workers as the workforce ages.
Matt Clark of Port Jersey Logistics, with facilities in Cranbury and Edison, said the public has a distorted view of the logistics industry, thinking only of truck drivers and warehouse material handlers. He said hands-on training in logistics is needed, including internships and apprenticeships, for jobs with great earnings potential.
“When students get out there and they start to do the projects, they have that aha moment – this is a lot more interesting than I thought it would be,” McLaury said.
Loughlin explained that the school district has changed its protocol for the development of new programs over the last few years to reach out to industry and talent development networks for advice. Advisory committees have been instituted and administrators have used site visits to make sure the district is meeting workforce demands and students are leaving school with the needed skills.
“It has been so rewarding for us to learn from these partners,” Loughlin said. “If we don’t know what industry is doing, we’re not going to be successful.”
Over the last two academic years, MCVTS has initiated career majors in pre-engineering/advanced manufacturing and arts technology.
The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has seven schools on five campuses, in East Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge.