I wouldn’t say I have the future of supply chain management on my mind, but I’m certainly thinking about future supply chain management talent.

 

Let’s face it: many companies struggle to find suitable candidates for supply chain management positions. The field of candidates is, as Adrianne Court puts it, “alarmingly sparse.”

 

Court, chief human resources officer at 3PL Transplace, explains in a recent video on SupplyChainBrain how the company developed its New Grad Professional Development Program. Creating the program gives Transplace the ability to develop supply chain talent in-house because it offers recently graduated candidates “front-line experience” serving key accounts, Court says.

 

New hires are followed closely by the executive team, says Court in the video. Within their first six to eight months on the job, they give a presentation to upper management about their experience to date and their work on special projects. Those presentations help management understand how the program is going, and they also help new hires feel they are valued.

 

I think a second piece of the puzzle is to promote supply chain management at colleges and universities by offering an undergraduate program. Substantial work continues to be done on that front as well.

 

Gartner recently released the results of its ranking of top undergraduate programs in supply chain management. Michigan State and Penn State tied for first place in the ranking, followed by the University of Tennessee. Next is the University of Texas, Western Michigan and another tie: Brigham Young and North Texas universities.

 

Chief among the findings are that university supply chain programs are increasingly relevant because their curriculums combine applied course work with more frequent and applied work experience. The result is that supply chain undergraduate placement rates are between 85 percent and 100 percent. Furthermore, in many cases, graduates are able to accept higher starting salaries than finance and accounting majors.

 

That’s possible because graduates are better prepared. For example, according to the University of North Texas, students enrolled in the UNT program get practical experience in logistics and learn how products and materials are created, packaged, stored and shipped along a supply chain to businesses and consumers. Additionally, to graduate, all program enrollees are required to complete an internship and take courses that provide a broad understanding of how goods are moved from a beginning point to an end point.

 

I was also interested to see recent news that MIT will introduce SCx, an on-line educational program developed by the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL), this fall. More than 9,000 individuals have already signed up for the first course, CTL.SC1x Supply Chain and Logistics Fundamentals.

 

“For some fifteen years we have been teaching the hard and soft skills that supply chain professionals need to succeed, and more than 800 professionals have graduated from our SCALE courses during that time,” says Dr. Chris Caplice, Executive Director, MIT CTL. “SCx will teach the same concepts but to thousands—not dozens—of students at a time worldwide.”

 

Most of the material will be taught through videos intermingled with small practice problems to reinforce the teachings. The problems are automated, and will provide instant feedback to the students. There are additional practice problems at the basic, intermediate and advanced levels each week as well. Then, each week will be capped off with graded assignments.

 

What are your thoughts on new-hire training, college programs or both? Are you seeing more candidates with what you consider the “right” education? Does your company supplement that with in-house training?