BILL CRAWFORD: Modernized talent supply chain needed

BILL CRAWFORD

BILL CRAWFORD

You’ve heard of supply chains, right?They begin with raw materials, transmogrify into component parts, then assemble into Toyotas, Subway Sandwiches, AT&T networks, and sometimes pitched battles.

Yes, the military relies upon supply chains. Materiel must be at the right place at the right time or the battle may be lost. Modern military materiel management – called logistics – consists of planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling the use of resources to ensure effective, efficient, and timely support of military units. It includes requirements determination, acquisition, distribution, maintenance, and disposal.

Modern manufacturing operates the same way…with extra emphasis on efficiency and timeliness. Modern technology radically improved manufacturing efficiency. “Just in time delivery,” the process whereby manufacturing assemblers require suppliers to provide components and raw materials when needed, radically improved timeliness.

Fed Ex and UPS became highly successful by modernizing logistics and delivering customers effective, efficient, and timely service.

Modern logistics, the effective operation of supply chains, has become a critical component of successful industry and military operations.

Now industry is looking to apply its modern logistics approach to something besides supplies…talent.

The Accenture 2014 Manufacturing Skills and Training Study, published in alliance with the Manufacturing Institute, found that “more than 75 percent of manufacturers report a moderate to severe shortage of skilled resources (talent) and over 80 percent of manufacturers report a moderate to severe shortage in highly skilled manufacturing resources.” To overcome this shortage, it says business must build “a talent supply chain with the needed skills to fuel growth.”

We can see this in Mississippi. To locate here, Yokohama Tire Company would not rely on outdated, ineffective, untimely, and minimal capacity vocational programs in schools and colleges to provide workers. The company required the state to ramp up a talent supply chain that will provide highly-skilled workers for its jobs in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, not all industries can require such a response from the state.

However, if we want to modernize our industrial base and compete for more companies like Yokohama, it’s clear the state must revamp and expand vocational programs into an industry-driven, talent supply chain that utilizes just in time, relevant, credential-based training programs. Traditional semester-based programs using outdated curricula with no skills authentication or credentials requirements won’t cut it. The Accenture study says opportunities for growth will abound for states that provide talent: “More than 50 percent of companies report plans to increase US-based production by at least five percent in the next five years, with nearly a quarter of respondents planning to grow US-based manufacturing roles by over 10 percent in the next five years.”

The supply chain for manufacturing talent in Mississippi needs to undergo the same modernization that happened for supply logistics. Can our school, college, and legislative leadership meet this challenge?

Bill Crawford (crawfolk@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.