How to Address the Supply Chain Talent Shortage, Part 2

By emphasizing the skills and talents necessary for supply chain, it will attract the talent it needs

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To read Part 1, please click here.

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 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Michigan State adopted programs that help students study supply chain and logistics with the promise of career or a simpler way to go through the program. MIT recently introduced a micro-masters course in which students can take five courses 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 supply chain management (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. Corporate Efforts 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.

Amy Clark works on the Elementum Rapid Response Team.