CNS 2019: The future of air cargo lives in a college dorm

MIAMI – Digital disruption. Technological innovations. Automation optimization. These are hot topics in the world of air cargo – but at the end of the day, leaders in the industry will remind you that all these advancements are meaningless without one vital factor: the human element. While data and technology may drive the industry to new places, it’s the workforce behind these processes that enable technology to push boundaries. But finding talent to champion and implement new innovations is, in and of itself, a challenge and remains a critical issue to the business of air cargo.

Yesterday, Kenneth G. Furton, executive vice president and COO of Florida International University (FIU), spoke on disruption in higher institutions and how stakeholders in air cargo and logistics can work with academia to generate a talented work force for the industry.

“Just as [air cargo’s] industry is being disrupted, disruption is also happening across higher education,” Furton said. Academia, he continued, had not changed much since Plato first introduced the concept of “the Academy” over 2,400 years ago. Scholarship generally saw students attend courses, earn a degree and enter the workforce upon graduation. Recently however, there has been a shift in the modus operandi – with increasing competition and globalization, students are now thinking more about the value of their degree, rather than just the act of earning it. How much will the degree help my career?

The future of air cargo, Furton said, is going to rely on many universities becoming “next gen global innovation universities” – this means that universities will need to begin offering courses, degrees, certificates, internships and mentorships preparing students to enter air cargo and logistics.

FIU has already begun offering several degrees (online, in person and hybrid) preparing students for air cargo and logistics industries, such as a master’s in logistics and supply chain management, master’s in data science and a bachelor’s in information technology. The university is also currently developing a bachelor’s in enterprise and logistics engineering. Beyond degrees, FIU offers internships and mentorship programs for students.

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