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LINCS program provides good, low-cost source of entry-level employees and training

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A government grant that provides low-cost supply chain training has been extended for six more months.

Looking for a warehouse line supervisor, transportation analyst, customer service representative, or similar entry-level employee? Or are you interested in providing current employees with the skills they need for those jobs? If so, you have six months left to take advantage of what is likely one of the most cost-effective supply chain training programs in the United States.

The LINCS (Leveraging, Integrating, Networking, Coordinating Supplies) national supply chain management education and certification program (also known as the Supply Chain Pro Fundamentals Certification) was founded approximately three and a half years ago with a US $24.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. It was designed to provide supply chain training primarily for veterans, people whose jobs have been outsourced overseas, and those who are underemployed or unemployed.

LINCS is administered by a consortium of colleges and universities across the country and consists of eight different courses: Supply Chain Management Principles, Warehousing Operations, Transportation Operations, Customer Service Operations, Demand Planning, Manufacturing & Service Operations, Inventory Management, and Supply Management & Procurement. Participants are free to select as many certification tracks as they wish. Students can either take the courses online or in instructor-led classes at the following nine colleges across the United States: Broward College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, and St. Petersburg College in Florida; Essex County College and Union County College in New Jersey; San Jacinto College in Texas; Long Beach City College in California; Columbus State Community College in Ohio; and Harper College in Illinois.

For those who choose to take the courses online, the program is essentially free, except for a US $25 fee to get the exam proctored. Five of the nine colleges (San Jacinto in Houston, Broward in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida State College in Jacksonville, Union College in New Jersey, and Long Beach City College in Long Beach) offer the program for free but do not offer any credits for the course. The other four colleges currently charge for the program but also provide credits for a degree. Harper College near Chicago provides three credits, while the other three offer one credit. The colleges offering one credit are charging tuition in the US $120-150 range, while Harper is at US $350 for three credits. When the grant ends at the end of March, the cost at each college will increase, as each will have to charge for both the exam, which is free today, and normal tuition.

CSCMP serves as the official industry partner and certifying body for LINCS. While the general subject areas that the LINCS courses address are the same as those covered under CSCMP's SCPro Certification, they are taught at a more fundamental, introductory level and are referred to as SCPro Fundamentals. "Our [Fundamentals] program is at the 101 college level," says Dee Biggs, vice president of industry partnerships for CSCMP, who is heavily involved in the program. "It's completely different from SCPro certification, which is taught at a different, higher level. This is for people who might be looking for entry-level jobs."

In the past 20 months, some 4,000 people have taken one or more of the LINCS/SCPro Fundamentals certification exams. Of those 4,000, 15 percent were veterans. Participants have a wide range of backgrounds, from high school degrees to master's degrees, says Biggs. The typical demographic for participants, however, is a 33-year-old with an associate degree and 10 years of work experience.

Benefits for participating companies
Companies can take advantage of the program in two ways, says Biggs. If they have job openings, they can contact one of the participating nine colleges, and the program will send them two to three resumes from the most qualified graduates of the program. This service is particularly beneficial for companies located near one of the nine colleges.

Additionally, companies can use the program for their own internal training and development. "This part of the program has been a runaway best seller," says Biggs. Companies that have taken advantage of this aspect of the program include Pepsi and Honda. Honda, for example, has sent 90 people through the program and plans to have another 30 to 40 people participate in the coming months.

Editor's note: This article was updated on October 4, 2016. A previous version of the article had incorrect pricing information about the LINCS courses.

Susan Lacefield is Senior Editor of CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly.

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