June 2014 | Commentary | Checking In

Reaching for the Stars

Tags: Education & Careers

Felecia Stratton is the editor of Inbound Logistics magazine.

The United States is challenged by a lack of skilled and technical workers. Some claim widespread offshoring created a generation of job attrition and lost experience. But offshoring is only a symptom of the real problem.

Previously, the U.S. education system failed to see and appreciate the true worth of blue- and gray-collar workers, and encouraged students to pursue non-technical career paths instead. Want proof? Browse the help-wanted ads and note the thousands of unfilled positions at companies across the nation requiring technical skills.

That focus is now changing, as colleges and universities across the United States continue to add logistics and supply chain courses, certifications, and degree programs. Nonetheless, this talent gap remains a glaring omission in many technical fields, especially among young professionals in supply chain management.

All the Gray Hairs are Gone. Now What?

I have had many discussions with supply chain professionals over the past few years about the lack of middle-management expertise in the supply chain. While the current truck driver shortage grabs all the headlines, the absence of supply chain engineers and logisticians coming up through the ranks goes largely ignored.

Quite simply, we're in the middle of a generational shift. Much of the human intelligence, leadership, and vision that shaped and shepherded today's supply chain practice, and achieved a high level of proficiency, is retiring. The U.S. economy faces a loudly ticking biological clock: By 2025, 75 percent of the total workforce will be millennials, according to ThomasNet.com's 2013 Industry Market Barometer survey. The impact on the U.S. supply chain will be dramatic.

If we don't invest in and steward the next generation of supply chain and procurement disciples, others will supplant our position as the global leader in supply chain practices. With this call to action in mind, Inbound Logistics is proud to support our sister company ThomasNet.com and the Institute for Supply Management by co-sponsoring a new recognition program—30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars. Our shared goal is to generate awareness of this new generation by celebrating the accomplishments of young, bright, passionate millennials who work in supply chain management.

By showcasing these rising stars, the 30 Under 30 program becomes a powerful asset that can be used to promote the importance of supply chain careers, and help close the talent gap.

Do you work with a bright, young purchasing/SCM professional? Nominate them for a spot on this list of rising stars, who will be profiled in an upcoming issue of Inbound Logistics. The deadline for submissions is July 31, 2014. For details: bit.ly/30under30SCM.