The Great Recession led many companies to make deep cuts in their supply chain management ranks. That's a natural reaction to a downturn in business. But the Great Recession did not repeal the Law of Unintended Consequences. As a result, companies now find themselves worrying about how they will find the talent they need to keep goods and supplies flowing smoothly in the near future.
That's the gist of a recently released white paper from MIT's Center for Transportation and Logistics. The paper says that the supply chain management field will soon face a "talent tsunami" that will leave executives and managers scrambling to find people with the skills needed to manage complex distribution systems.
Those skills, the paper says, go beyond crunching numbers and tracking the movement of items through space. "Soft" skills such as the ability to think creatively will matter just as much as the "hard" ones in making effective supply chain managers.
What this means for the job-seeker interested in a logistics career is that this is an ideal time to get some education. Many colleges and universities now offer professional certificate and degree programs in logistics, transportation, and supply chain management, including MIT; these are excellent places to acquire the "hard" knowledge essential for success in the field. But, the white paper notes, it may no longer be necessary to follow this route into a logistics career. Because the field now demands individuals who can "navigate in a fog," higher-level problem-solving skills are key, and there are a number of disciplines where these skills come into play. The ability to communicate effectively with diverse personalities at a global level is also an increasingly important skill in a world where supply chains easily cross national borders. All these factors make logistics management a field worth considering for people with backgrounds as varied as information technology, communications, and mathematics, for instance.
By Sandy Smith
Sandy Smith is an award-winning writer and editor who has spent most of his career in public relations and corporate communications. His work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia CityPaper, PGN, and a number of Web sites. Philly-area residents may also recognize him as "MarketStEl" of discussion-board fame. He has been a part of the great reserve army of freelance writers since January 2009 and is actively seeking opportunities wherever they may lie.