Millennials working in supply chain management jobs are focused, engaged, enthused and committed to working in supply chain management, according to a new report from APICS, the professional association for supply chain management. Millennials in supply chain jobs were surveyed earlier this year by Peerless Research Group in conjunction with Supply Chain Management Review (SCMR) and the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC), and the resulting APICS report, “Millennials in Supply Chain,” shows that among Millennial respondents, the supply chain represents a sought-after, dynamic and rewarding long-term career choice for professionals in their 20s and 30s.
“The results of the report are eye-opening, especially when compared to [comments from] more senior supply chain professionals in leadership positions, who were part of a previous study from APICS and SCMR in 2016,” says APICS CEO, Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CAE, CPA. “We see that more Millennials started their career in supply chain, are moving around less, are highly satisfied with their jobs and see more opportunities for advancement in the field.”
While planning, procurement and inventory management are the top three supply chain roles for Millennials, supply chain management is increasingly a cross-functional position. Millennials say they are involved in a wide variety of supply chain functions, led by inventory management (64 percent), transportation and logistics (56 percent), demand planning, forecasting and S&OP (54 percent), supply chain design and planning (52 percent), and purchasing (51 percent).
Looking to the future, respondents want to be involved in supply chain design and planning (49 percent), business intelligence and analytics (45 percent), lean management (44 percent), and robotics and robotics process automation (41 percent). Interestingly, they consider inventory management, manufacturing, warehouse and DC management and transportation and logistics as less desirable career paths, with less than 30 percent of the respondents hoping for future involvement in those areas.
Nonetheless, there are challenges for the industry to address. For instance, just as research of senior managers in 2016 showed a pay gap between males and females, there is a gender wage gap among Millennials. Men and women start at roughly the same salary, but the disparity grows larger as they move up the career ladder, the report notes. This disparity is chief among complaints from Millennials surveyed.
That said, the primary frustration, cited by 36 percent of respondents, is an unclear career path for upward mobility in supply chain positions. Relationships with management—or, really, the lack of positive relationships—is also a significant frustration for Millennials. Twenty-three percent say they are frustrated by the attitude toward Millennials by older generations in their organizations, and a similar number said they feel disconnected from the big picture or experience a lack of purpose in the workplace. In other findings, a lack of mentoring and strong hands-on guidance is a concern for 22 percent of respondents, 21 percent said they believe they don’t get enough recognition for the work they perform, and 20 percent said they are put off by micromanagement from leadership.
“Despite some noted frustrations, Millennials are continuous learners and fast movers who are eager to advance,” Eshkenazi says. “Millennials are growing and learning on the job in an era of lean, optimized, end-to-end supply chains, and are critical to the ongoing transformation of the industry. To address the ongoing skills gap, industry expectations, priorities and communication styles must adapt to, and embrace, the different needs of this younger generation.”
If you are a Millennial, do you agree with the findings in the report? If you aren’t a Millennial, do the report’s findings mirror what you hear from Millennial colleagues?