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Supply Chain Skills Gap

By Herb Shields | 10/10/2012 | 7:44 AM

 Kudos to Art Van Bodegraven and Ken Ackerman for their timely column in the September issue of DC Velocity titled Mind the Gap, Mate: A critical supply/demand mismatch.  If you missed their discussion, they covered many issues related to the gap between available talent and the number of people required in supply chain jobs from fork lift drivers up into the executive suite.

As a practitioner for most of my career and now also as a teacher at the university level of students who aspire to positions in the global supply chain, I have seen the disconnect between companies and educational institutions first hand.  That said, I also see many companies making a concerted effort to close the gap.  A couple of Chicago area examples – Caterpillar Tractor has been aggressively working at the community college level to encourage the development of more programs that provide manufacturing skills training.  I mentioned that in a post back in May.  At the Illinois Institute of Technology, in the Industrial Technology and Management Department, we have established student chapters for both CSCMP and APICS. These chapters provide students the opportunity to interface and learn from people in the profession today.  Obviously, IIT is not the only university doing that, but it is a good example of a way for industry and education to connect.  It provides an opportunity for companies to influence what we teach about supply chain management and to let students learn more about the issues that industry faces today.  We will also regularly solicit advice on curriculum and course content through an Industry Advisory Board starting in January, 2013.

Art and Ken also commented on what they see as a gap between many supply chain managers and those who are true leaders.  That is a tough one, we can teach management skills to students.  However, leadership is something that you develop not just by “learning” it in the academic sense, but by observation and experience in the work place.   I’d welcome any thoughts or suggestions from readers.



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About Herb Shields

Herb Shields

Herb Shields has run Chicago-based HCS Consulting since 2000, helping clients across multiple industries and in higher education improve their supply chain strategy and execution. Shields has more than 30 years as an operations executive for capital equipment, automotive, electrical machinery and consumer products companies. As vice president of materials management at consumer goods company Helene Curtis, Shields led the supply chain organization that helped Helene Curtis win "Vendor of the Year" awards from Wal-Mart Stores and Target Corp. Shields has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Clarkson University and did graduate work in business at Bowling Green State University.


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