It’s Up to You to Educate the Supply Chain Workforce of the Future

Published : July 31, 2015


Business methods have changed, the market has changed, and even the products and services within that market have evolved. Believing that your supply chain team will remain a static constant isn't sound supply chain strategy. Not only have expectations toed the line of scope creep as a strategy rather than an obstacle, the "new blood" being infused into your workforce has personal growth demands you need to be ready to satisfy for retention's sake. Training isn't just a function of job efficiency and safety anymore -- today's supply chain professional wants to earn their way to the top through learning. Here's how to be an employer worthy of loyalty, rather than a paycheck:

Build to Fill the Need

If your base of operations finds itself with a lack of qualified candidates, whether through commute struggles or lack of expertise, don't be afraid to make a bold move towards fixing the problem. Laura Putre of Industry Week recently detailed a manufacturing plant in Michigan which, when confronted with a dearth of talent, opened its own training university to expand the pool of potential hires.  Within the supply chain sphere, this may mean proactive training of current employees, or sourcing - as the manufacturing plant did - fresh talent from colleges and universities around your headquarters. When you become the first industry experience a new graduate has, even if they move on in time to one of your suppliers, they'll be primed to keep facilitating your material and product movement in a way that works best for your goals.

Take Advantage of Fresh Perspective

New recruits and graduates are more attuned to the demands and habits of the modern consumer than any previous generation, by default. Expand this natural aptitude and offer a career boost by making judicious use of seminars and trade show learning opportunities; the stronger the base on your new hire's career, the more likely they will continue to impress as they mature within their position. As Kevin Sterneckert explains in Supply & Demand Chain, supply chain managers are compelled to greater speed and efficiency to meet the demands of a "now" generation of consumers and B2B contacts, all driven by the immediacy and transparency of technology. If you let your new crop of talent stretch the wings they're predisposed to, you'll likely be rewarded with on-point insight that can be fed back into your supply chain strategy. 

Give Them a Reason to Stay

As with any investment, you'll want to make sure you get the most mileage out of recruiting and training your supply chain team. Abe Eshkenazi of Industry Week recommends individual career path creation and direction, mentorship initiatives and a positive work environment; these will will help spur new industry professionals to continue learning and growing their trade well after their position is secure. In short, don't take your team for granted! Encourage them to pursue and approach you with additional learning opportunities for time or financial support and you'll build the kind of open-door atmosphere that will continue to be in high demand in the future. Even successful companies shouldn't rest on their laurels by assuming it will always be a "buyer's market" for hiring - if the tide shifts and your offerings and attitude aren't up to speed as a company, the best talent won't hesitate to cross over to your competition. 

While loading up your to-do list with goals outside of the immediate operational needs of your company may feel counter-intuitive, it's an investment in future supply chain strategy. You want and need diverse talent that's committed to bettering your company as they better themselves, and positioning yourself as a source for support in that journey will make you an attractive prospect, both now and in the future.

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Topics: Supply Chain Workforce Management

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