60 Seconds With Allan Howie

A visit with Allan Howie, Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development at MHIA

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Modern: Allan, what will be happening around education at NA 2010 in Cleveland this month?

Howie: We have a number of events. On Monday, we're sponsoring a “workforce of the future” keynote address by three speakers who are heavily involved in material handling education. At MHIA, we're very focused on working with technical high schools and community colleges to provide the skill sets required for a job in distribution. We'll have a classroom day, where we invite students and instructors from those agencies to attend the show and meet with our members. And, we're inviting instructors and program directors who are contemplating a program in materials handling. To use a well-worn word, we're going to “network.“

Modern: Why should education at this level be important to our readers?

Howie: Our industry is going to be in desperate need of a skilled labor force to operate distribution centers and warehouses in the very near future. Our leadership needs to recognize this. They also need to communicate with their local schools and community colleges the skill sets they need at the entry level in their facilities. Those folks are educators. If you tell them what you need, they can teach it.

Modern: How long has this program been going on and where does it stand today?

Howie: We started about five years ago, working to assist in outplacement training for the U.S. Marines. It's mushroomed from there. We developed a career cluster known as TDL, which stands for transportation, distribution and logistics. It's now being emphasized as a career path for young people in community colleges and high schools. We've adapted our instructional materials for the Marines for them. At the last count, we had 25 to 30 high schools and community colleges on board, and in some cases, they're starting at the 9th grade level.  It's growing every day.

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