On course for supply chain training

by Carolyn Gruske

Starting in September, people who want to work in a supply chain career will have another educational option.

The Cornwall, Ontario campus of St Lawrence College will be welcoming its first cohort of university and college graduates who are looking for some supply chain training. The three-semester graduate certificate program will be divided into two parts: two semesters of in-class instruction and one semester of job placement at a local 3PL or DC.

Frank Lockington, director of the St Lawrence College Foundation, said students will graduate with a wide range of skills, from purchasing to materials handling to using computer-based logistics tracking tools.

“When they come out they should be qualified to be a management trainee in any aspect of the supply chain,”he said.

“The curriculum is actually based on what companies in the area have told us are their requirements, and an examination of what else is being offered across the country for curriculum at this level.”

The program, which is the third in supply chain topics developed by the college in recent months (the others are an ongoing 15-week supply chain techniques course for entry-level workers and a now-finished eight-week materials handling course for warehouse workers) has gone from idea to reality very quickly.

“It was expedited for us. With a new program we’d normally have 18 months to get things up and running, but with what’s happening in the Cornwall region right now, the Eastern Canadian distribution centre for Target is scheduled to open in a few weeks, so their needs will be huge. Rather than wait a whole year for this to roll around, we’re going to try to bring in enough students to make it run in the first year,” Lockington said.

In addition to Target, Cornwall is also home to a Walmart Canada DC operated by SCM Inc and a Shoppers Drug Mart DC run by Matrix Logistics Services Ltd, adding to the heavy demand for supply chain employees.

The curriculum has been approved and the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has granted approval for the course. No teachers have been hired yet—Lockington said they will mostly be drawn from local industries and will teach part-time—but the student recruitment process is already underway.

The college will be recruiting students locally and from across the country and further beyond. International students with a credential from their home country, can come to Canada, study for a year and then get a visa to stay in Canada and work for a year. The students will be ready for their placements beginning in April 2014.