Help Wanted: Capable Supply Chain Managers

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE | 0 | 0 | May 09, 2014

Customer-focused, business-oriented, and innovative individuals sought. APICS certifications preferred. Very competitive pay. New graduates and experienced professionals welcome to apply.

While the previous text is an imaginary advertisement, it’s the kind of thing we experience more than ever before. Fortune this week posted its own version: “Wanted: 1.4 Million New Supply Chain Workers by 2018.” There are hurdles in attracting qualified candidates, one of the biggest being that those outside of the profession can’t even define what this profession encompasses. Just as concerning is that most individuals don’t recognize the opportunity supply chain presents or don’t understand the value it delivers.

The Fortune article does its part to contradict the widely held image of supply chain work. While there’s a need for a shop floor and warehouse workforce, this industry “badly needs new talent in high tech, analytics, robotics, and engineering,” writes Anne Fisher. “Career changers, take note: Seasoned managers, marketers, data analysts, and human resources executives are also in high demand.”

Supply chain managers across manufacturing describe a fierce competition for good talent, whether it’s students just graduating from college or seasoned professionals in the industry. Chuck Edwards is the president of Lenze Americas, a supply chain automation, software, and systems integration provider. He advises company leaders to “try harder” and consider how professionals from other industries might fill openings. “Analytics, scheduling, complex problem solving, project management—we need all of these, and they’re very easily transferred from another business,” he says.

Looking to the future

APICS has its own data to add to the supply chain equation. According to the APICS Operations Management Employment Outlook, average annual compensation across all operations management job categories is an impressive $99,685. The categories include the plan, source, make, deliver, and return areas of supply chain. The research project is ongoing, and salaries have been steadily rising since its inception in 2009.

APICS education also plays a part. In fact, according to the report, respondents who hold either the APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) or the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credentials have experienced higher compensation and more positive outcomes in hiring decisions. Additionally, as I’ve previously reported, SCM World’s 2013 Chief Supply Chain Officer Survey shows that APICS certifications are the top indicators of supply chain talent among all certifications in the marketplace.

APICS is working hard to reach out to and inform the next generation of supply chain and operations management professionals. For example, APICS student membership now is free, and enables full-time undergraduate and graduate students to network in a community of more than3,200 other APICS student members. Plus, student members can meet experienced supply chain and operations management professionals and access local training opportunities. 

If you haven’t visited lately, I encourage you to check out the APICS website. Then, tell others to do the same. The website features the professional data, resources, and event information to meet a variety of your current—and future—needs.