What’s Hot in Higher Ed? Supply Chain Management
The growing complexity and interconnectedness of global markets is starting to be reflected in U.S. higher education. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, universities are introducing curricula – from undergraduate majors to full-scale degree programs – in supply chain management.
The College of Business at Bryant University in Rhode Island is among those adopting an undergrad major and M.B.A. specialization in the topic. Nearly 150 students are already enrolled in undergrad or M.B.A. courses such as global sourcing and social responsibility in the supply chain.
Rutgers University has had an M.B.A. concentration in supply chain management for more than a decade but added an undergraduate program in 2010, the Journal reported. About 450 students have enrolled.
A recent story in Bloomberg Businessweek calls supply chain “one of the hottest tickets in B-school” and says programs are taking off at the University of Southern California and Arizona State.
“Everyone wants newer innovations faster or their products delivered faster,” Teresa McCarthy, director of Bryan University’s program, told the publication. “It requires creativity and employees with the skills necessary to accomplish that by understanding the supply chain.”
A Shortage of Available Talent
The Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, using U.S. Department of Labor data, calculated that the United States needs to fill about 270,200 logistics-related jobs each year through 2018 – and that’s just to keep up with projected industry growth.
The center’s research also indicates that U.S. higher education – more than 7,600 institutions – generate only about 75,000 formally trained, degreed or certified supply chain workers each year, or just over a quarter of demand.
The center suggests several potential solutions, including:
- Earlier visibility of logistics in the education process, including in high schools. “Professors repeatedly cite interactions with college-level students who have their first exposure to a logistics class in their junior year, find it interesting and appealing as a career choice, but feel they are too far along in their current field of study to make a change and delay graduation,” the report authors wrote.
- More, better opportunities for scholarships that provide real-world logistics experience. “This requires understanding the needs of the businesses within a reasonable radius of a university/college and ideally establishing a recurring position that allows better matching of students with opportunities,” the authors wrote.
- “Reduced or eliminated hurdles” for our troops who are transitioning back to civilian life. “Many veterans returning from deployment have already received highly skilled training in logistics related fields that are easily transferable to civilian jobs,” the report says.
The Rise of Supply Chain Needs
Why are we seeing all this new focus on supply chain? In short, because the world has gotten a lot smaller with the rise of technology. Some call it a new “interconnectedness” in which businesses that once were isolated from each other find themselves occupying the same supply chain – and reliant upon each other.
Market-leading companies increasingly find that the use of top-grade supply chain management solutions to collaborate with partners in forecasting, product development, warehouse management and work order management gives them competitive advantage. With these new abilities, businesses gain the agility to meet consumer demand on a dime; businesses that can’t meet the requirement are doomed.
Higher education’s recently elevated interest in supply chain management is a response to a marketplace that recognizes the value of agile, scalable organizations that can deliver the reliability, convenience, speed and customization that we all have grown to expect in the internet age.