Millennials Are a Good Fit for Supply Chain Jobs

Members of the millennial generation looking for their perfect jobs might craft an advertisement something like this: Employment wanted: Position must be challenging with multiple possibilities for growth and new experiences. Job should involve technology, have a global focus and include opportunities for making a positive contribution to society and/or protecting the environment.

Although the youthful job seekers might not know it, this “work wanted” ad describes many positions that are available today throughout the supply chain. The problem is that many millennials, born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, either haven’t heard of the supply chain or they don’t understand what it does.

How can companies looking to fill material handling and supply chain positions change that? How can they let young candidates know just how desirable such a job could be?

Dana Magliola, director of the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative at North Carolina State University’s Poole College of Management, sees it as a branding problem. “Companies should be getting the word out to better position this job opportunity,” says Magliola. “There’s the perception of material handling as being ‘old timey.’ They want meaning. Employers need to show how this sector is a lever for change in the environment and a point of control over social issues. Show them the opportunity is there for social impact. Sharing a sustainability report, for example, shows the impact of what the company does.

“Don’t just explain how a warehouse works—also explain how it fits into a network of other warehouses, and how those networks work globally,” he adds. “Material handling should be presented as a job where every day, there’s a problem that must be solved creatively.”

There are many aspects of the supply chain that companies can emphasize to appeal to the millennial generation. Gen Ys grew up with technology and are very comfortable with it, so companies should be talking about the exciting potential of the Internet of Things in the supply chain, about automation in the warehouse and about all the other changes that technology will bring to the industry.

By Mary Lou Jay and Jeff Fogel

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