July 2016 | Commentary | Smart Moves

Prepare Today for the Workforce of Tomorrow

Tags: Education & Careers, Logistics, Supply Chain

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE is CEO, APICS, 800-444-2742

In the past decade, consumers have embraced the internet to gain control of the shopping landscape. Shoppers no longer clip coupons or wander big box stores without information. Instead, they compare prices, seek out deals, and research and review products on their smartphones—from wherever they happen to be. In response, retailers have to increase consumer loyalty by offering expanded online selections, custom options, and perks such as flash sales and same-day delivery.

As products are more frequently delivered directly to consumers, demand increases for warehousing and logistics workers. Concurrently, the skills these workers need are changing. The result is a shortage of qualified workers to support the logistics, transportation, and distribution needs of manufacturers and retailers.

Consider how the logistics sector is expected to change over the next several years:

From 2010 to 2020, the number of U.S. logistician jobs is expected to grow 26 percent—almost double the average rate for all occupations—due to the boost in competition among businesses in a global marketplace, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2014, the U.S. freight network transported more than 54 million tons of goods worth nearly $48 billion daily, and the Department of Transportation projects freight tonnage to increase by 62 percent by 2040.

Organizations expanding into fast-growing emerging markets also require considerable success in employee recruitment and training.

These scenarios put a lot of pressure on organizations to ensure the workforce is prepared for the upswing in demand. Employers need to seek out skilled candidates who understand the entire supply chain and should expect tough hiring competition. Ensuring that a pipeline of qualified candidates enters the supply chain and logistics hiring pool also presents a challenge.

Here are some changes we can make today to prepare the workforce we need:

  • Improve perception. A recent U.S. News and World Report study ranks logistician jobs as the 12th-best business career and the 79th-best career overall. Logistician unemployment rates are low and median salary is $73,870. We should make people considering careers in logistics aware of these statistics.
  • Develop from within. Invest in professional development, encourage employees to pursue certifications, and reward individuals for bringing additional value to your operations. A motivated employee from outside the supply chain area might be a great fit after targeted training and development.
  • Seek out emerging talent. Recent college graduates are eager to join the workforce and will quickly absorb information about your organization's unique needs or processes. Millennials have a keen sense of technology, and can help your organization stay relevant in the ever-changing digital environment.
  • Learn locally. Supply chain organizations have different talent needs based on their location. Start conversations with colleges and universities in your area to ensure the future workforce graduates with the skills and knowledge local employers value.
  • 24/7 recruiting. Ongoing recruiting makes it easier to access potential talent when a need arises.

    We need to prepare for the increase in supply chain and logistics demand by empowering the workforce of tomorrow. Industry and academia must come together to tout the benefits of logistics and supply chain careers, and improve the field's perception. Attracting the best talent positions tomorrow's supply chains to meet future consumer demand.






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