Logistics is the process that allows things to move, whether it be sofas to Seattle or iPads to Indonesia. Parts and finished products travel around the globe in a system set by professionals in logistics and supply chain management. Volunteer State Community College is constantly pushing its logistics and supply chain management training forward to match the speed of commerce. And that speed may be increasing with the announcement of an Amazon operations center in Nashville, a facility that is expected to employ up to 5,000 people. State officials say the center will have an emphasis in customer fulfillment and supply chain management.
“You already have Amazon with several warehouse distribution centers in Middle Tennessee,” said Royce Dugan, CEO of TNT Supply Chain Services in Mt. Juliet. “You have Nissan parts and distribution. Just drive down highway 840 and look to the right and to the left, you will see hundreds of thousands of square feet of distribution space. We have six interstates intersections in Nashville. You can reach 80 percent of the U.S. population from here.”
Dugan said that growth means that companies are searching for trained supply chain management professionals. “It’s very hard getting qualified people. We run ads every day. You can start in an entry level position and wind up managing an entire product line eventually.”
Kelly Dean graduated from the Vol State program last year. She now works for TNT. “I tend to get bored if things get stagnant and in logistics there is always something changing. There are new regulations and procedures. It keeps it interesting,” Dean said.
“Everything is tied to a computer somewhere,” said Vol State professor, Don Ellis. “It’s bar codes, its scanners.” The college has added a cyber security element to Logistics and Supply Chain Management classes and works with the college Computer Information Technology program. The goal is to tie the classroom education to real world needs. “The classes now have a weekly real life case study. We’re looking at inventory management. We’re talking about technology and the impact of technology. We’re discussing trade and tariffs.”
The emphasis on the real world at Vol State can also be seen through Work-Based Learning partnerships, where students work paying jobs and earn college credit. Five companies are developing partnerships with Vol State and more are coming soon. Students can earn a one-year certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management from Vol State. They can then take those credits and keep working for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Classes are primarily held online, which makes it a flexible education for working students and people with families. Students can enroll full or part-time. Those who do not already have a college degree may be able to take the program tuition-free through the TN Reconnect program. Vol State has transfer partnerships in Logistics and Supply Chain Management with area universities, allowing students to continue their education for a four-year degree. For more information visit www.volstate.edu/logistics
Pictued: Kelly Dean and Royce Dugan on a warehouse floor at TNT Supply Chain Services.