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Atkins: Georgia Tech supply chain, logistics institute supports growing demand at port

Business at the Port of Savannah has swelled in recent years, leading to a short supply of qualified workers and warehouse space.

In last month’s State of the Port address, GPA announced that in fiscal year 2017, the Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million 20-foot equivalent container units, an increase of 6.7 percent. It is the fourth-busiest and fastest-growing container port in the United States and now hosts 36 weekly vessel calls, more than any other container terminal on the U.S. East Coast.

Governor Nathan Deal, who spoke at the Georgia Logistics Summit last May, said that companies requiring specialty logistics have invested more than $4 billion and added about 18,000 jobs in Georgia since July 2016. Georgia has positioned itself as an ideal location for the logistics industry, but needs a workforce willing to learn. Of those polled at the summit, 72 percent said their company had hiring shortages.

The logistics industry is challenged by rapid growth and an aging workforce. In the transportation and warehousing industry, nearly one quarter of workers are 55 or older, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With many soon retiring, the industry urgently needs new workers to fill those positions. Commercial truck driving is especially desperate for skilled workers. The American Trucking Association predicts that the industry will need to hire 90,000 drivers a year to keep pace with demand.

To address this shortage, Governor Deal included the logistics industry in his High Demand Career Initiative. The initiative seeks to create public and private partnerships that will develop a locally trained, reliable workforce that can sustain the state’s current thriving industries and attract new companies.

Georgia Tech’s Supply Chain and Logistics Institute (SCL) is also helping the logistics industry chart a course toward success through workshops, on-site training and internships. SCL, based in Atlanta and known globally as a leader in research and education in the application of scientific principles to optimize the design and integration of supply chain strategy, infrastructure, processes, and technology, is the largest school of its kind in the world. It has been operating an outreach office at the Savannah campus for a little over a year.

The Institute offers a variety of courses for all different levels of logistics personnel. For example, SCL offers public short courses in Savannah on topics such as Material Handling 101, Lean Inbound Logistics and Supply Chain Project Management. By attending these classes, coastal region learners can update their skills and interact with representatives from similar companies around the U.S. and around the world.

SCL has also designed custom courses held on-site at local companies in subjects such as warehouse layout, procurement, contract management and negotiation skills. Another option for continuing education is internships and class projects for undergraduate and graduate industrial engineers in topics such as automation studies and network design analyses.

Navigating the demands of Georgia’s growing logistics industry is not easy. But SCL is willing to support the growing needs of the community. For more information about how SCL can help your business succeed, please visitwww.scl.gatech.edu.

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Theresa Atkins serves as director of Industry Partnerships - Supply Chain &Logistics for Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) at the Savannah campus. She can be reached at 912.966.7918 or theresa.atkins@pe.gatech.edu.

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