We've heard a lot about job creation during this election season. I'll let others debate which candidate or party will be better for the economy and the jobs that economic growth brings with it.
What I do know is we don't have to look far to find job creators: They are the readers of this magazine and anyone else in the business of managing logistics and distribution or of providing those folks with goods or services.
Whether businesses offshore, nearshore, or onshore production, the very nature of logistics and physical distribution demands that distribution be near the end customers. Moreover, the beauty of logistics from a job perspective is that while many professions increasingly demand workers with advanced education—and that includes many of the jobs in logistics and material handling—our industry also needs good workers who can do the physical labor crucial to making logistics work: forklift drivers, order pickers, truck drivers, and many more. I am certain that the nation needs to focus much more effort on education to assure our future competitiveness; it is also certain that there will always be millions of men and women who will not go to college or pursue advanced technical training who will need good jobs, and the logistics sector will do much to provide them.
I was reminded of this recently while talking to Yossi Sheffi about his new book, Logistics Clusters: Delivering Value and Driving Growth. Sheffi, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Transportation and Logistics and a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the school, argues in the book that logistics clusters—geographical groupings of logistics facilities and providers, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and more—are important engines of economic growth around the world.
Our November issue will carry my interview with Sheffi about his book, but I wanted to highlight what he had to say about logistics and jobs. "Logistics is not offshore," he pointed out. "You cannot do distribution to all your retail stores from China. You have to bring it here, and you have to do it locally, which means that you are creating jobs and you are protecting them from being off shore next year." He reminds us that the economics of transportation compel local distribution, something I'm sure our readers understand full well. Those economics require as much consolidation as possible for the longest leg of any logistics network, with deconsolidation done as close to the end customer as practicable. That means creating logistics and distribution jobs locally for Ph.D.s and high school grads, those holding bachelor's degrees, and those re-entering civilian life from the military.
Whatever the outcome of the November election, logistics professionals can take justifiable pride in that.