Upskilling the Supply Chain: Alexis Asks

Managing editor Alexis Mizell-Pleasant asks industry experts about various topics developing in the supply chain field. Investments in upskilling ensure the workforce is well-positioned to contribute meaningfully to the innovations of tomorrow.

Adobe Stock 435029363

An upskilling strategy might be the newest wave for managers who want to enhance their digital process.

The integration of advanced technologies has taken traditional supply chain operations by storm, and necessitating a workforce that can seamlessly collaborate with these innovations is vital. Upskilling is the means to acquire new skillsets and knowledge that adapt and change with the environment — and the supply chain is in a state of evolution.

The primary driver behind the need for upskilling? The increasing complexity of global trade networks. Sure, emerging technologies offer the potential for enhanced agility in supply chain operations, but realizing these benefits requires a workforce equipped with the most relevant skills.

Dave Food, head of product supply chain at Board International, predicts that in 2024, supply chain companies will need to reevaluate training and upskilling strategies, as the shift from manual to digital fulfillment continues to accelerate.

"While investments in AI and automation tools have streamlined processes and freed up personnel from repetitive tasks, a lack of essential technical skills will leave many workers trailing in today's increasingly digital landscape," explains Food. "Despite this concerning skills gap, only 36% of business leaders this year invested in reskilling or upskilling labor, instead resorting to outsourcing or hiring temporary staff with the necessary skills at a higher cost. Supply chain leaders must prioritize their retention practices in the New Year or risk jeopardizing their overall innovation strategy."

Moreover, upskilling initiatives contribute to employee engagement and job satisfaction. When workers are equipped with the skills needed to navigate the evolving technological landscape, they are more likely to feel confident and fulfilled in their roles. In a post-COVID workforce, job retention is a key component to keeping businesses going — with so many companies still suffering from a lack of staffing. Strides are being made wherever they can, including in the warehouse for example, where even gamification is being leveraged to keep workers engaged. 

Upskilling in the supply chain is a strategic imperative for businesses seeking to thrive in an era of rapid advancement. By investing in the development of their workforce, companies can ensure that their employees are not only prepared for the challenges of today but are also well-positioned to contribute meaningfully to the innovations of tomorrow.