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From surgical masks, coins, and disinfectant wipes to paper towels and pepperoni, we’ve seen a lot of shortages in these pandemic times. Now, it appears we can add another entry to the list: supply chain automation technicians.

According to the non-profit Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC), the pandemic-fueled spike in e-commerce sales is driving investment in automated fulfillment systems, creating a shortage of technicians to install, maintain, support, operate, and upgrade the equipment.

To meet that “acute national need,” the council has now launched a “Certified Technician in Supply Chain Automation” (CT-SCA) training and certification program. Created in partnership with the National Center for Supply Chain Automation, the training and equipment provider Amatrol Inc., and the material handling and logistics trade group MHI, the initiative is funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program.

“Driven by Covid-19, the nation’s entire retail economy is accelerating its long-term shift toward e-commerce: orders shipped directly to consumers out of large distribution centers,” MSSC Chair and President Leo Reddy said in a release. “In response to this challenge and opportunity, the e-commerce industry is [particularly likely] to increase its investment in automation technologies, according to a 2020 study by Honeywell Intelligrated. The CT-SCA program is designed to provide these companies with higher-skilled technicians to ensure that these automated systems are dependable, cost-effective, flexible, and safe.”

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