Australia, Companies, Features, Labour, Logistics, Mentoring, Supply Chain

Attracting next gen to supply chain

It’s imperative to showcase the remarkable technological innovations driving the supply chain industry forward. Image: SCLAA.

Michael Farragher, TAFE NSW Teacher of Supply Chain and Logistics/SCLAA Training, Education and Development Committee, writes for MHD about how the industry can attract and recruit new young talent.

During the pandemic, we gained a heightened appreciation for the importance of supply chains and the professionals who manage them. 

As we confronted various disruptions such as lockdowns, port congestions, and fluctuating demand patterns, it became clear that the efficiency, adaptability, and strategic decision-making of these professionals were crucial for sustaining supply chains. 

It’s in the aftermath of the pandemic that we fully grasp the tremendous value of outstanding supply chain executives. 

The term “outstanding” underscores the need for individuals who not only possess the essential knowledge and skills of supply chain management, but also have the capability to address unprecedented challenges and swiftly adapt to evolving landscapes.

At the recent ‘Australian Supply Chain & Logistics Awards’ in Sydney, Paul Graham, CEO of Australia Post, outlined one of its challenges as the ‘Ageing Workforce’ – a common theme within the sector. 

The big question is, ‘What can we do’? There are various strategies that can be applied to address the workforce challenges that we are facing in the Supply Chain and Logistics sector, which include:

Remove negative perceptions among young workers: 

The issue: The supply chain profession faces an image challenge. Many individuals lack a clear understanding of what the term “Supply Chain & Logistics” entails. 

The name fails to convey the intricate tasks involved in managing the manufacturing, transportation, and storage of goods. 

Despite technological advancements driving the supply chain industry, younger professionals often perceive it as mundane and devoid of career progression opportunities. 

One contributing factor is the lack of public relations efforts by companies to elevate the visibility of supply chain roles. 

Ultimately, Millennials and Generation Z employees are unaware of the potential for opportunity, compensation, and professional development offered by a career in the supply chain field.

Possible solutions: 

Education and awareness programs:

To foster a better understanding and appreciation of Supply Chain Management across various industries, it’s essential to develop educational programs that emphasise its critical role and career pathways. 

By engaging with schools, colleges, and universities, we can actively promote the diverse and dynamic nature of careers within the supply chain sector. 

Additionally, organising workshops, seminars, site tours and career fairs offers valuable insights into the exciting opportunities available, helping to inspire and inform future generations about the possibilities within this field. This ongoing service is a primary focus of the SCLAA.

Industry collaboration:

Fostering partnerships between educational institutions like TAFE NSW and industry organisations such as the SCLAA and Industry Skills Australia (ISA) is crucial for ensuring that curriculum and training programs meet the evolving needs of the supply chain sector. 

By collaborating closely, we can align educational offerings with the latest industry trends, technologies, and best practices, thereby better preparing students for careers in supply chain management. 

Moreover, encouraging industry professionals to engage in mentorship programs is invaluable. 

The SCLAA offers a fantastic Mentoring Program, which is run annually to assist in this area, with registrations opening at the end of March. 

Through mentors sharing their wealth of experience and insights with younger individuals, they can inspire and guide the next generation of supply chain professionals, fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth within the industry.

Highlight Technological Advancements:

It’s imperative to showcase the remarkable technological innovations driving the supply chain industry forward, with a particular emphasis on automation, data analytics, and other cutting-edge technologies. 

By highlighting these advancements, we can demonstrate how they revolutionise traditional processes, increase efficiency, and enhance decision-making capabilities across the supply chain. 

Moreover, illustrating how these innovations create more engaging and intellectually stimulating roles within the sector is essential. 

From leveraging data analytics to optimising inventory management to implementing automation solutions for streamlined warehouse operations, these technologies empower supply chain professionals to tackle complex challenges creatively and drive meaningful change within their organisations.

Career success stories:

Sharing success stories of young professionals who have thrived in supply chain careers is a powerful way to inspire others and showcase the diverse opportunities within the field. 

By highlighting their achievements, career progression, and the impact they’ve made in their roles, we can illustrate the growth potential and rewarding nature of supply chain careers. 

Utilising testimonials and case studies allows us to provide tangible examples of individuals who have excelled in various areas of the supply chain, from procurement to logistics to operations. 

These stories not only celebrate the accomplishments of these professionals, but also demonstrate the multitude of paths available within the industry, encouraging others to pursue their passions and excel in their own supply chain journeys.

Traineeships programs:

Establishing traineeship programs is crucial for providing young workers with hands-on experience and exposure to daily activities within the supply chain. 

These programs offer valuable opportunities for participants to gain practical skills, learn from experienced professionals, and understand the intricacies of supply chain operations. 

By immersing themselves in real-world scenarios, young workers can witness the direct impact of their contributions on organisational success and supply chain efficiency. 

Additionally, traineeship programs allow participants to develop essential skills and competencies relevant to their roles, fostering their professional growth and preparing them for career advancement opportunities within the industry. 

Ultimately, these programs serve as a valuable investment in the development of future supply chain leaders and ensure a skilled workforce capable of driving innovation and success in the field. 

Many Vocational Educations Training (VET) Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) will offer School Based Traineeships (SBAT) or Traineeships. 

These programs are a win-win, providing employees with valuable career opportunities and formal qualifications, while helping a business remain competitive with a skilled and dedicated workforce. 

The Australian government provides both financial and non-financial support to employers of trainees.

Enhance visibility on social media:

Utilise social media platforms as a tool to highlight the vibrant and dynamic facets of supply chain careers. Share captivating content that offers glimpses behind the scenes, showcases employee spotlights, and explores current industry trends.

By providing engaging insights into the diverse roles, innovative projects, and impactful contributions within the supply chain field, we can capture the interest of young professionals and inspire them to explore rewarding careers in this dynamic industry.

By implementing these strategies, organisations can work towards dispelling negative perceptions and attract young talent to the Supply Chain & Logistics field by presenting it as an exciting, innovative, and rewarding career choice. 

From data analysts to operations managers, warehouse supervisors to transportation coordinators, sustainability specialists to procurement professionals, the breadth and diversity of roles within the industry cater to a wide range of skills, interests, and passions. 

Whether you’re drawn to problem-solving, technology, teamwork, or strategic planning, there’s a role that aligns with your strengths and aspirations. 

The supply chain and logistics sector offer countless opportunities for individuals to contribute their unique talents and make a meaningful impact on global commerce, making it an exciting and rewarding field for anyone seeking a dynamic and fulfilling career.

For more information on the SCLAA, click here

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