Short Supply – Supply Chain Managers are Needed

Short Supply – Supply Chain Managers are Needed

For every new supply chain management college graduate that enters the workforce, there are likely six open positions waiting for them. That’s great news for the graduate, but not such a great fact for Indiana employers who are facing a mounting need for more logistics-trained individuals.

Supply chain managers are incredibly valuable for companies, as they handle lots of different key operations. They’re responsible for the intake of raw materials, distributing them to the right parties, and overseeing production. After that, they ensure the final product reaches its destination. On top of all that, they’re responsible for equipment, hardware, logistics, and for finding areas of improvement. It’s a very diverse specialty, and one that many Hoosier firms need.

Making the shortage more precarious is the fact that between 25 to 33% of the supply chain workforce already is at or past retirement age, according to data from research firm Supply Chain Insights, and overall the logistics industry is projected to see growth over the next few years. So, what are Indiana colleges and universities doing to help meet this workforce demand?

The short answer is, quite a bit. In addition to numerous schools that already had existing supply chain programs, several new ones have been implemented so far this year. Also, the state has new programs aimed at incentivizing people to apply for logistics-related certifications. Here’s a look at some of the developments.

Vincennes and Ivy Tech, Taking Things to the ‘Next Level’

According to the most recent information available from Indiana’s Next Level Jobs initiative, there are about 3,600 skilled transportation and logistics-related job openings statewide. These jobs, which include supply chain management positions, have been identified as “high wage, high need” careers and are eligible for funding under the initiative’s Workforce Ready Grant. Hoosiers can earn certificates through Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University campuses around the state for free. Full tuition costs are covered.

That fact that people can receive certifications for free is rather telling about the level of skilled labor demand that persists in the supply chain field and others encompassed by the initiative. The state is literally willing to pay people to develop these skills because employers need them in such high numbers. Though the initiative is still relatively new, there has already reportedly been strong interest burgeoning throughout the state.

Two Universities Launching Supply Chain Degrees This Fall

Two of Indiana’s universities are planning to launch new supply chain management degree programs this fall as part of an effort to meet regional demand from employers in two very distant areas of the state. In the Northwest, the College of Business at Valparaiso University will be starting courses across its new major and minor degrees in supply chain and logistics management this fall. At the same time in the Southwest, the University of Evansville’s Schroeder School of Business will be starting lessons in its new logistics and supply chain management program.

“The manufacturing and transportation hub of Northwest Indiana provides ideal career opportunities for supply chain and logistics management graduates,” said Sanjay Kumar, Ph.D., associate professor of information and decision science with Valparaiso University.

Schroeder Family School of Business Dean Greg Rawski said, “We have listened to our regional business community and responded. Our program will prepare students with the knowledge and skills desired by those employers.”

Both Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana and Conexus Indiana have both endorsed Evansville’s program, with Toyota contributing a gift of $90,000 to support its implementation.

“This program will help to fill a need for trained and qualified candidates for many employers in our region and create opportunities for students to build careers with longevity,” said Toyota Plant Vice President Tim Hollander.

“World-Renowned” MIT Supply Chain Program Partners with Purdue

Online learners enrolled in Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s MITx MicroMasters program in supply chain management can earn their master’s degree as part of a new pathway with Purdue University.

Purdue’s Krannert School of Management will waive 10 credits toward a master’s degree in global supply chain management to those who complete the MicroMasters program, which is comprised of five online courses and a comprehensive exam.

“Students and employers need exceptional education delivered with flexibility and modularity, especially in disciplines like global supply chain and operations management,” said David Hummels, dean of the Krannert School of Management. “We are proud to work with MIT in creating a unique pathway for well-prepared students to complete a highly ranked master’s degree in SCM with great access to high-profile faculty expertise, hands-on experience from local company projects and state-of-the-art educational technologies.”

The MicroMasters program offers online learners a foundational understanding of supply chain management and represents one semester of coursework, which can be continued at MIT, Purdue or six other universities offering a pathway in the United States, Australia, Guatemala, Malaysia and Spain.

“These online courses offer the same rigor and relevance as the material taught on campus through MIT’s world-renowned Supply Chain Management program,” said Sanjay Sarma, vice president for open learning and the Fred Fort Flowers and Daniel Fort Flowers Professor in Mechanical Engineering.

Experiential learning is a key part of both the Krannert and MITx MicroMasters supply chain management programs. Teams of three to five master’s students at Purdue work with partnering companies under the supervision of faculty and are responsible for completing all deliverables and presenting their final results. Not only does this provide outstanding real-world learning opportunities, but also a solid base as a career accelerator as well.

More on the Way

While the plans that have been lain this year will certainly help address the workforce shortage, they’re likely not going to be enough to satisfy the entire demand. Taken as a progression though, they’re part of a larger movement to coordinate the needs of employers with the lessons being taught to students, validating employer concerns while working toward a solution. As these plans grow, so too will new opportunities for both companies and employees. At the very least, they’re a big step in the right direction and will help build quality careers for years to come.


The Most Important Skills for Supply Chain Employees
Identified from a survey of over 380 supply chain professionals

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Ability to “see the big picture”
  • Creative thinking skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Working well with others
  • Ability to see cause and effect
  • Strong work ethic
  • Strong oral communication skills

Source: Supply Chain Insights


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