It has come to my attention that there are countless amounts of people who are not aware of the supply chain industry. Take me for example. Before I secured an internship at INFORM GmbH I hadn’t really considered the supply chain industry as a pursuit. For my year abroad, I thought I’d just be working in an office, maybe translating or filling out data sheets. But no, I saw the job description and it really grabbed my attention. It seemed interesting, different from any opportunity I thought I would have been given.
It’s funny, having studied business since I was around 14 and not having a full grasp on the supply chain industry. However, we are taught what we need for exams, not necessarily for the actual world. This is probably one of the particular reasons why business students don’t immediately think of the supply chain industry as a job opportunity. Current business degree programs seem to limit the scope of opportunities within the supply chain to lorry drivers, warehouse and general assembly line workers. In actuality, there are many more areas where one can get involved.
Who would have thought that you could get an internship writing ABOUT the supply chain industry? This is an example of how unexpected jobs can stem from a particular industry. There is actually a huge demand for workers in the supply chain industry; in 2014 the logistics trade group, Material Handling Industry (MHI), reported roughly 270,000 jobs per year were looking to be filled by 2018. This highlights the need for education and awareness of the supply chain industry to be spread. As previously mentioned, I was also unaware of how big and imperative the industry actually is; a perfect example of why more education is needed to fulfil the growing demand for workers. Supply chain processes basically serve as the core of the entire company. Effective supply chain management is crucial for success.
So, how can we educate the masses, or how can they educate themselves? There are many ways in which learning can be achieved: through Twitter, Universities, courses and the good old fashioned way, books.
Throughout this article I will be exploring the ways in which people can be made aware of this multi-faceted industry that is somehow still hiding in the shadows.
There are thousands of Twitter accounts which focus on supply chain knowledge and news. Daily tweets are written and retweeted by experts, describing the happenings and developments that have ensued in the passing weeks. New ideas are brought forward and explored, unearthing questions and sparking discussions.
Twitter is a great site for personal interaction. It sounds obvious, given as it’s a social networking site, but it is a main contributor to networking. It allows users to get to know people in the industry and create a flow of communication that was once not available. Twitter connects supply chain experts, or even just people like me, newcomers to the industry, from all around the world as a platform of knowledge. You can learn a great deal from twitter; I have experienced this first hand. By following the ‘Supply Chain Power Influencers’ of the industry, I have learned about the general concepts and have kept up-to-date with the latest stories in the industry. Checking twitter multiple times daily has had a major impact upon my learning.
Universities and online courses
As a business student, learning is focused on a written syllabus which leads to less time focused on specific topics. Many students choose Business Studies as their degree where modules in the course all depend on the lecturers’ specialist subjects. However, a definitive list has been created ranking universities from all over the world, citing the best masters in supply chain management. Students can prepare themselves with expert knowledge, leading them on to successful high-valued graduate jobs. This is probably the easiest way to gain the right skills needed and build on knowledge retained from bachelor’s degrees.
I have also found various online master’s courses centering on supply chain and logistics. Some will come at a hefty price but will ensure a specific knowledge-base and quality teaching. It leads to more independent study which helps prepare for the future, gaining skills such as organizational, effective analysis and decision making. A study from 2013 showed that supply chain managers with a master’s degree earn 25% more than those with a bachelor’s.
Books and articles
There are many books which can help to obtain a basic view on the industry. Here are a few examples:
- Global Logistics & Supply Chain Management by John Mangan Et Al,
- Management by Process: A Practical Road-map to Sustainable Business Process Management by John Jeston Et Al
- Logistics and Supply Chain Management by Martin Christopher.
These books provide readers with practical/working case studies to further understanding, and provide a good foundation for learning. The complete list of helpful and insightful supply chain books for beginners can be found here.
Supply chain experts publish their works as books, but many also publish online articles. An example of this can be seen from the author of Supply Chain Metrics that Matter, Lora M. Cecere. Her book, published in 2014, entails the progress of over a hundred companies, evaluating their individual supply chains and their successes. However, she is also an active blogger on her Supply Chain Insights website, focusing on a multitude of subjects and analyzing how they impact or improve upon the industry. These types of blogs are useful for the reader to become knowledgeable on a range of topics and stay up-to-date on developments, something which is integral to this fast-paced industry.
The supply chain industry is one which will keep changing and growing. The amount of jobs that need to be filled and will be created is staggering. It truly shows the need for education to take place to ensure a bright future of skilled and knowledgeable workers. Through the sources mentioned, people can easily learn the relevant information to help them pursue careers in all sectors of the supply chain industry. So please, let’s educate the people on this hard-working industry and show them the benefits of working in it.
Get educated people! 😀
How do you stay up to date on the latest developments within the supply chain industry?
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