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The Battle for Supply Chain Talent Starts in Middle School

June 1, 2016
It's never too soon to start cultivating the hearts and minds of supply chain talent.

I’ve written before about a possible shortage in supply chain talent in the future, as according to a survey by SCM World, 43% of supply chain executives believe it is more difficult to hire supply chain talent in 2014, compared with 37% in 2013 and 22% in 2011.

As I will be speaking at a Career Day at a local high school about the supply chain management field, it reminded me that you can never start too early, especially when we are up against more established career paths such as accounting and marketing.

An APICS article entitled, “Priming the Pump: Supply Chain Education for Students and Teachers” points out some rather innovative techniques that the Indiana Department of Education is doing to encourage younger people to consider a future in supply chain.

They compared post-secondary programs of study in supply chain management and selected objectives achievable at the high school level and created a conceptual design for a program of study. They decided that students should meet Indiana's standard college preparatory course requirements, which would include taking introductory supply chain and computer applications courses from Indiana’s two community college systems for dual credit at the 11th or 12th-grade level.

High schools then partnered with a faculty member from the University of Indianapolis to develop instructional modules in mathematics that teach the Indiana standards while introducing students to concepts and careers in supply chain management.

To support this initiative, they found teachers to introduce supply chain educational and career opportunities to high school students through workshops.

As you can never start too early, they developed another strategy for recruiting students into the supply chain program of study by reaching out to middle school students through a summer enrichment program. This included visits to local companies and JIT simulations through APICS.

As the article notes, “Industry and education collaborative efforts such as the ones described here are essential to identifying real-world skills requirements and getting young people motivated to enter the supply chain profession.”

You can conclude, then, that in order to have an efficient, effective business supply chain well into the future, we all need to make sure the talent supply chain pipeline is full too.

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