JCC aims to help fill jobs in supply chain | The Johnstonian News
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JCC aims to help fill jobs in supply chain

Posted on January 3, 2022

Updated on January 10, 2022

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The Amazon distribution center under construction in Smithfield could benefit from a new degree program at Johnston Community College.

Photo courtesy Johnston County Economic Development Office

The Amazon distribution center under construction in Smithfield could benefit from a new degree program at Johnston Community College.

sbolejack@johnstoniannews.com | 919-424-1776

Hildenbrand

Hildenbrand

SMITHFIELD — Bob Hildenbrand knows what broke the global supply chain.

“It’s really a crossroads of two major things,” said Hildenbrand, chairman of the Logistics and Transportation Department at Johnston Community College. “The first one is COVID. That is the first and largest factor driving supply-chain problems right now.”

“And what COVID has done is caused labor-availability issues,” Hildenbrand said. “That’s the biggest problem. There are not enough drivers.”

The second road at Hildenbrand’s crossroads is the advent of e-commerce, or online sales. “There has been a huge shift in how people buy things over the last 10 years, and it’s accelerated because of COVID,” he said.

Whether it comes from a brick-and-mortar store or from online, clothing is still clothing; the difference is how it gets to the consumer, Hildenbrand said. “Products that once were bought only in a retail store are now direct from their sources in the Far East, for the most part, to the U.S.,” he said. “The amount of shipping that’s coming from overseas, mostly by container ship, is creating this logjam in major ports on the West Coast.”

To help fill the labor hole in the supply chain, JCC is about to launch an associate degree program in supply-chain management, though the program was in the works before COVID caused its disruptions.

“It just so happened that the implementation of it came about the same time as COVID,” Hildenbrand said. “That’s more of a coincidence.”

Instead, the program is a response to Johnston County’s emergence as a distribution hub for companies as diverse as Dollar General, medical device maker Becton Dickinson and, soon, Amazon.

“We have tremendous job growth in Johnston County related to supply chain jobs,” Hildenbrand said.

The program will teach the skills that jobs in the supply chain demand, he said. “There are going to be two concentrations that we’re focusing on at JCC,” Hildenbrand said. “The first concentration is distribution, and the second is transportation. Those are the ones that are most prevalent in Johnston County.”

Distribution will cover a host of topics — sourcing, purchasing, scheduling transportation, warehouse operations and distribution to the final destination, Hildenbrand said. “Transportation is fleet management, understanding different transport systems and how to manage all of those,” he said, pointing to everything from small delivery trucks to 18-wheelers to rail.

The program will qualify graduates for a host of jobs in the supply chain, Hildenbrand said. “You could be a supply-chain coordinator, logistics analyst, a sourcing manager, warehouse manager, logistics manager, operations manager,” he said. “Those are the most common titles that somebody with this degree would actually go into.”

And the pay, Hildenbrand said, can be good, with managers making more than $60,000 a year to start. “If you are an analyst, you’re talking at least in the high $40s, low $50s,” he said. “Those are good wages in Johnston County.”

“The beauty of this program is that these skills — these supply chain management skills — apply to any business,” Hildenbrand said. “Every product has a supply chain. And even if you are not in the business of logistics — you’re just manufacturing stuff — people in your organization who have skills in supply chain are extremely valuable.”

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