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Santa Monica College Programs Prepare Students for Growing Logistics Field

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By Lookout Staff

August 8, 2016 -- With the nation's two largest ports just 30 miles away, Santa Monica College (SMC) is helping to supply the rapidly growing logistics industry with qualified workers, College officials said.

The increasingly popular discipline, which studies the flow of goods from their point of origin to consumers, is the focus of SMC's Associate degree and certificates in Global Trade and Logistics and International Business and is taught in both traditional and online classes, officials said.

Picture of Nelson Rivas
Nelson Rivas (Photo Courtesy of Santa Monica College)

“Logistics is supply chain, transportation, distribution, and operations management,” said Sal Veas, chair of SMC's Business Department. “Simply put, logistics looks at how an item and its parts came to be one, got packaged, got delivered, and arrived to you as you ordered it, on a timely basis.”

More than three million people are currently employed by some 47,000 California firms in "logistics/supply chain activities," and another 12,900 jobs in logistics are expected to be created over the next three years, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC).

More than 40 percent of all goods brought into the U.S. enter through Southern California, which claims the nation’s two largest ports, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

To capitalize on the region's prime location, a partnership -- Pathways Regional Opportunities: Global Trade and Logistics (PRO-GTL) Consortia -- was formed between private industry and seven community colleges in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, including SMC.

The partnership promotes "career opportunities in global trade, e-commerce, logistics and global entrepreneurship" for a variety of students, officials said.

“We have international students and some from local high schools, and our night classes bring in entrepreneurs who have their own business and want to learn about exporting to other countries,” says SMC Business instructor Katya Rodriguez.

Some SMC students looking for a career change are attracted by the opportunities and challenges presented by logistics, officials said.

One example is Nelson Rivas, now an account representative with a third-party logistics company that provides critical inventory, distribution and transportation services to high-tech and medical companies.

“I was working in another field, when I began looking at the possibility of making a career change,” said Rivas, who is working toward the certificate.

“I enrolled in Katya Rodriguez’s logistics class, and that’s pretty much what started all this for me.”

Rivas said he would like to get an Associate degree from SMC with a focus on logistics and supply chain management and perhaps transfer to California State University, Long Beach.

SMC’s Business department also is working to create a noncredit program in Logistics and Supply Chain Management "to introduce nontraditional students to this well-paying career," officials said.

“This industry is growing pretty fast,” Rodriguez said. “Long Beach has a new container terminal, and they’ll be hiring; and the Port of Los Angeles hires every February, especially seeking students and recent graduates as long-term committed employees.”

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