Supply Chain Credentials - Meeting The Demand

Is it really any surprise that another industry has surfaced whereby succession planning, the preparation and awareness of the growth needed to sustain business, and the ever essential training and evelopment to prepare for new and current staff has been overlooked and is now in panic mode? How many times do we need to hear that our baby boomers are retiring and leaving the workforce? How about that freezer you thought you would open after you’ve decided it is time to replenish your diminishing staff that is full of new talent. Talent that has the specific credentials and skill sets you require to continue to do business? Yes that is correct, it doesn’t exist, so what are we doing to better prepare?
The future success of the supply chain operations in an organization, which is undoubtedly one of the central services in any industry, relies on the engagement of capable and well trained individuals. Driving current talent towards these vital supply chain roles in the quantities required to supply the demand is crucial. The necessity for talent in the field of supply chain and logistics management is growing and the global competition to find this talent should be concerning to corporations. So what is being done to support the awareness and growth to supply the need?
The first thing on the list is the necessary attention required from management within our organizations to produce an active initiative on what can be done to attract new professionals to supply chain roles. Our corporations must understand that the nature of work for most people is the opportunity to continue to grow and achieve professional and personal success while utilizing their training, knowledge and skills in a career they worked towards and enjoy.
For example, today’s youth are more aware than ever about what they want in their careers, where they want to be in 5 – 10 years, they learned from the best! We’ve asked them that question a thousand times already, beginning in school, during interviews and as parents. It should only be fitting that they now have a clear sense of what their life plan will essentially look like. What are we doing to even acknowledge careers in the growing supply chain profession? Think about it, if you were not in a supply chain role, or had no knowledge about this industry, would you have taken the necessary steps to ensure you obtained the necessary training and credentials required so you could work in one of these positions?
Enter the education system. It is through this initial step, when our youth tries to determine which career avenue to explore, which courses to choose to get there and what those options look like for them as a profession. I personally believe as well that advertising on social media, in the movie theatre – “way to go Cenovus”, enlisting the assistance of a staffing agency such as Step Staffing, and being visible and ready to answer questions at recruitment fairs can potentially raise the much needed awareness of any industry to a vast amount of curious and capable talent.
So here’s what we learned at Step Staffing & Recruiting when researching information on a few educational programs servicing the need for the required credentials and knowledge within Supply Chain and Logistics careers. Did you know that specifically here at home in Calgary, Alberta we have recognized the ever­growing need in this industry and have produced a very proactive solution to meet the demands of this profession? One of our educational partners has a dynamic program to start the awareness process for these essential roles early! The Career and Technology Centre (CTC) at the Calgary Board of Education’s (CBE), Lord Shaughnessy High School, is ensuring our youth in grades 10 – 12 are provided the opportunity to learn and explore a possible Supply Chain and Logistics profession. Starting the buzz early will create the awareness of such roles and allow students to look at a potential career within this industry.
Step asked Sanimar Sarpal, Learning Specialist, at the Calgary Board of Education about this exciting new program and what students can expect, Sanimar states, “This Calgary Board of Education’s program
provides students with opportunities to learn about the supply chain industry, with the intention of building awareness among students, parents and teachers of this rapidly growing sector. Students are able to access related Alberta Education Career & Technology Studies [CTS] courses through online access, as well as face­to­face. When possible, the CBE has connected with industry partners to provide students with real world work experience, allowing them to understand how supply chain concepts apply to industry”.
Step also inquired as to what kind of commitment is involved in this new program? Do students learn about the designations and certifications necessary and where do you suggest they go for their additional training after High School? Sanimar explained that “As part of the program development, the CBE has engaged various post­secondary institutions, professional associations and industry experts. The CBE and these organizations are exploring potential possibilities for ‘learning ladders’ and alignments with programs, to support students transitioning beyond high school. Students will have the opportunity to learn about the many pathways available to them in post­secondary and the world of work related to supply chain”.
Step Staffing also wanted to know if there were any other details the CBE would like our readers to know about the new program. Could this program potentially enlist the help of Supply Chain / Logistics industry experts who could assist with this program as volunteers when needed? Sanimar Sarpal answered that, “The program is in beginning stages but continues to evolve and grow. The CBE welcomes opportunities with industry to support student learning”.
As an Adult Educator, training and development is one of my great passions. I believe, like many, the value a well trained staff can add to any organization. I believe in this engagement of staff because I have seen the results when a company chooses to invest in their people and also the outcomes when they choose not to invest. Any company should not only prepare their employees to be successful within their roles through comprehensive training but it should also provide them the opportunity to continue to reach higher. Ongoing training will produce a consistent growth of skills meeting the current and future needs of the company. Companies can also benefit by cross training skills that will be vital as your employees move forward in their careers with your organization.
In many situations, I have witnessed entire training departments be disassembled during challenging times because there are some that still think that training doesn’t bring in any capital. Let’s face it, your companies tough times are exactly when you need your training department guru’s who understand your culture! The employees left behind after a “restructuring” have to pick up for their coworkers who are no longer with the company. The staff must face these difficult times with you and will need to learn many new skills to keep the business moving forward. Adult Educators both with internal and external programs can be a viable resource generating a positive end result during this transition. Trainers will mentor, support and provide the tools the staff will need on how to be all the more efficient. Without this support businesses may continue to decline losing valued clients and customers.
The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA), acknowledged that companies with the most skilled and knowledgeable employees will be the most successful. CIFFA will be there to assist its members as they invest in employee development for the future of their company and industry, providing the necessary training required. CIFFA’s Board of Directors are strong advocates of supportive educational programs. Their vast amount of dedicated years within this industry continues to provide valuable knowledge on the educational requirements needed in Supply Chain and Logistics. CIFFA’s education programs benefit from this combined knowledge ensuring their programs promote the most current and up to date trends. When speaking with Stephen McDermott, Director, Education and Training at CIFFA, Stephen stated that half of the CIFFA advanced certificate is dedicated to Supply Chain Management. Within this program you will learn about Logistics and Supply Chain Management; An Introduction to Sales and Marketing as well as International Sales and Marketing and the Greening of Transportation. This advanced certificate also teaches students about specialized freight services. Students have up to three calendar years to complete this certification. As far as meeting the trends – Stephen stated that they consistently add to their education programs with updates as they emerge. Stephen also mentioned that over the last few years he has seen both private and public sector colleges strongly market supply chain business programs.
One of those colleges is triOS College in Ontario, Canada which is using strong marketing to attract students. Their website boasts that “The industry, (Supply Chain & Logistics), is booming but is expected to face a vacancy rate of more than 80,000 jobs a year due to retirement and turnover”. This website also showcases graduate success stories and promise that their grads are ready to hit the ground running. The triOS programs provide comprehensive curriculum and practical, hands on instructor led training.
The market for the specific talent required in the field of supply chain and logistics management is very competitive. Many CEO’s are aware that this area needs qualified people or their companies will be unable to compete in the global economy. Some staffing agencies such as Step Staffing, work with corporations to find talent or work with you and your contractor staff to manage their contract details including their payroll and benefits while supporting the demands of your business. The engagement of youth can be daunting for corporations, as we continue to strive to understand what it will take to connect them to the roles we have. One such youth, Tabitha K states that she was attracted to Supply Chain as a career because someone in her inner circle had made a career out of Supply Chain. Tabitha then started off in procurement and when she mastered that area, she says she felt fortunate that one of her manager’s gave her other tasks such as booking trucks. She then moved into a position whereby she needed to understand what people were asking for and as she had the right team behind her to help her learn and grow in the industry, she was promoted into the world of Exporting. Tabitha loved using her knowledge and skill sets and decided to solidify her commitment to this as a career and enrolled into CIFFA’s certification program. The flexible learning format offered in the CIFFA certification program, allowed her the opportunity to continue to work and grow while earning the credentials she would need within the industry.
There are authentic challenges involved in the endeavour to improve this industry’s talent base, as we are all aware. Meeting those challenges head on by partnering with our educational institutions in an effort to gain the necessary qualifications and credentials is key. With the buy­in of management and the certainty that supply chain roles will be highly sought after by corporations, we must ensure that we are putting together a cohesive plan to make the industry appealing to middle aged and young professionals so they will choose to join the Supply Chain and Logistics industry meeting the supply for the ongoing demand.
By Connie Cook