This is a follow-up piece to our previous post, 4 reasons for the supply chain talent shortage.
Talent shortage in the supply chain industry is not a problem that can be solved overnight. It involves universities and corporations working together to provide the right education, understand how to evaluate performance, and change the public perception of what “supply chain” really means. Here are some ways the industry is addressing the problem:
1. Increase awareness—and change connotation—from a young age
Whether it means changing the name or just working on its connotation, “supply chain” needs a makeover. Professor Richard Wilding spoke about a board game he developed with several companies, which focuses on educating young children about logistics and transportation. He put emphasis on the fact that children don’t grow up understanding that the supply chain exists—which is a fair point. We can imagine how things are made, and we can imagine buying them. When it comes to what happens in between, things fade to black.
2. Make university programs more accessible
Schools like MIT and Michigan State have adopted programs that help students make the tricky move from studying supply chain and logistics to building a career in them. MIT recently introduced a micro-masters course, where students can take five classes online, followed by an examination. Upon completion, they receive a certification. Students with the certification can then gain entry to MIT, where they can get the full Master’s degree in one semester. Professor Yossi Sheffi said that it encourages a more diverse student body because the entrance criteria is based solely off of performance in the course, rather than standardized testing. “We hope we’re increasing production of SCM talent, but also giving the basics to a lot of other students who many not have the money to come to MIT. We are also working with lots of international universities in order for them to recognize our online offering.
3. Hiring campaigns should highlight the career’s importance
Companies like Mattel and Coca-Cola are working with universities to offer professional experience at a university level, as well as to offer training programs for those interested in supply chain. Mattel has an entry-level program that aims to expose trainees to more aspects of the global supply chain. Ultimately, companies need to shift their thinking when it comes to supply chain careers, understanding that performance metrics must change in order to reflect the new supply chain. Employees must appreciate the value of every department to the supply chain, and work with a number of people in order to make sure procurement, manufacturing, and transportation are all running smoothly.
Supply chain is a challenging network of operations that takes an incredible amount of effort to orchestrate. Without proper understanding, encouragement, and education for students looking to find their niche in the business world, it will be difficult to balance the “boring” reputation of supply chain. By emphasizing the skills and talents necessary for supply chain, it will speak for itself and attract the talent it needs.