Universities Embrace Challenge of Developing Top Supply Chain Talent, Design Targeted Programs with Holistic View

The struggle to fill supply chain job openings with qualified candidates at every level has been widely documented and reported over the last few years. Supply chain management level positions—from operations management to data analytics to planning and procurement—are among the fastest growing areas for new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the challenge is not limited to the United States. Worldwide, 71 percent of executives with multinational firms reported difficulty in recruiting supply chain leadership, according to Deloitte’s third annual Supply Chain Talent of the Future survey.

Universities, particularly business schools, have aggressively responded to this need, says Dana Stiffler, research vice president at Gartner. Gartner has been studying the landscape of supply chain academia since 2008, ranking campus-based undergraduate and graduate programs across a range of criteria in a biennial Top 25 report for each.

The fourth editions of the reports—Top U.S. Supply Chain Undergraduate University Programs, 2016 and Top U.S. Supply Chain Graduate University Programs, 2016—are intended specifically to help chief supply chain officers, heads of supply chain strategy and supply chain human resources partners target their recruiting efforts as they seek to fill those open positions. In 2016, the undergraduate report surveyed 51 programs; the graduate report surveyed 44.

After eight years, Stiffler has observed tremendous growth in both the establishment and expansion of supply chain degree programs. And, perhaps surprising to some, most of those programs are coming out of the business schools.

“While there are still many companies that seek graduates from industrial engineering programs, particularly if they want someone with a more technical, quantitative background, the trend has been a desire to hire candidates with a more holistic view of the supply chain,” she explains.

In the early 2000s, around the same time the term “supply chain” began to be popularized across the industry, universities recognized that companies needed graduates with a broader, end-to-end view; one that encompassed sourcing and procurement, logistics and fulfillment, supply chain planning, manufacturing and service management.

By Angela Jenkins, MHI Director of Career & Technical Education (CTE)

Click here to read the full article.