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Growing the awareness of the supply chain

By Dr. Robert L. Gordon | 12/12/2016 | 4:22 AM

Guest Post by Stacey Little, Program Director, Transportation and Logistics Management, American Public University System

Ever wondered why when a junior high or high school student is asked about their career aspiration that they rarely mention logistics or supply chain?  On the rare occasion we hear that they want to be in logistics or supply chain, yet usually, it is because they know someone or one of their parents work in the field.  In fact, many students who do go into the profession admit that logistics and supply chain was not something that was on their radar while in high school.

What is the answer to this lack of awareness of this profession?  Why is logistics or supply chain not a sought after or dream job of a junior high or high school student?  I have often heard that logistics and supply chain jobs are associated with negative stereotypes and are not attractive to students.   Alternatively, the supply chain profession can be difficult to describe to young children. 

While attending an APICS Conference, I learned of an effort to bring awareness to Supply Chain and Stem through an outreach program targeting elementary, middle and high schools.  This particular program is customizable to children as young as kindergarten and as old as seniors in high school. I saw demonstrations of fun activities in which the school children could participate.  There were hands on activities with toys such as legos and paper airplanes for younger children and more advanced activities with cell phone supply for older children. I learned the goal of this outreach program was to reach 100,000 students by 2020. The outreach program is an excellent initiative providing ways for Logistics and Supply Chain Professionals to get involved.  Volunteers are a huge factor to the success of the outreach program.

Another initiative aimed at increasing supply chain awareness is the #iWorkinTheSupplyChain Campaign.  The campaign allows supply chain professionals to share their stories in efforts to inspire the next generation of workers.   Not only does it honor those who are successful in the field it highlights supply chain’s role in our economy. Showcasing supply chain professionals demystifies the supply chain profession.

Supply chain is an attractive occupation with a talent shortage that needs to be addressed.  As baby boomers in supply chain positions retire, the question is who will fill these positions?  These jobs should be highly sought after as there are so many facets and career paths that students can take.   Included in the information shared around the supply chain profession should be the emphasis on the value and importance of the employee roles in this functional area. Information like this will bring awareness to the types of jobs available as well as the professional people who occupy supply chain jobs removing misconceptions around the profession.

What can supply chain professionals do?

  • Public speaking -Accept opportunities to speak to others about the profession including career days at local schools. Be proud of your strategic and exciting career.
  • Mentor- Pay it forward by showing others how exciting this career field can be. Sharing your knowledge and experience can help others see how valuable the supply chains jobs are to the organization and the global economy.
  • Volunteer- Offer your knowledge to a small business trying to get off the ground or volunteer at a non-profit organization.
  • Write- Highlight your knowledge and skills by writing a blog or contributing an article to a local paper.
  • Social Media- use social media to spread the word of the exciting career experiences and opportunities that are available.

In today’s global, competitive environment supply chain roles within the organization are gaining increasing importance.  Organizations want to have the best talent in these positions.  Addressing the awareness issue will help bring more talented individuals toward the supply chain profession.   Sharing your experience can help reduce the confusion and negative stigma surrounding the supply chain profession.  Take steps today to make a difference tomorrow.



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The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is program director of the Reverse Logistics department at American Public University. Dr. Gordon has over twenty-five years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. He holds a Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, as well earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA. Dr. Gordon has spent more than 14 years teaching reverse logistics, transportation, project management, and human resources. He has published articles on reverse logistics; supply chain management; project management; human resources; education, and complexity. He has also published four books on Reverse Logistics Management; Complexity and Project Management; Virtual Project Management Organizations, and Successful Program Management..

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