Supply Chain Career: What Skills are Supply Chain Managers Looking for?
If you’re considering a supply chain career…
First, congratulations on considering a career in the supply chain industry. It is this industry that keeps the economy moving and delivering both necessities and amenities alike to consumers daily. On top of that, logistics work is rewarding and there is plenty of room to grow and advance your career.
The logistics industry in a great career field to get involved in. Not only is the work fulfilling, but the supply chains that support the world will always need quality workers. This means that there is also a fair amount of job security to be found in this line of work. Logistics workers also tend to find the work very fulfilling, as their jobs directly and indirectly help people all across the globe.
That being said, the world is changing rapidly. In the next few years, there will likely be demand for supply chain workers. However, supply chain managers will be looking for employees with very specific skill sets.
In this article, we will look ahead to the next few years and discuss:
- What skills you’ll need to thrive in supply chain work.
- How to begin the process of finding these jobs and preparing for them.
The Future of Supply Chains
Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to precisely predict the future. However, we can look toward current trends, simulation models, and other data to give us a basic idea of what we might expect supply chains to look like down the road.
Technology and Automation
There’s no doubt that technology is going to play a huge role in the success of supply chains moving forward. Automated systems can help supply chain professionals make faster, more informed decisions. This will be critical, especially when natural disasters, plant closures, or other issues develop.
Does the adoption of technology mean that fewer workers will be needed? Not necessarily.
Human workers will always be required throughout the supply chain, even if their roles change. For instance, if a robot can safely, effectively, and quickly perform the heavy lifting within a warehouse, there is little reason for human workers to perform that task. However, machine learning and AI advancements do not account for some of the subtle nuances and historical experience of human workers. Those are qualities that matter when making decisions.
Therefore, the role of human workers will be more in line with monitoring systems and adjusting parameters in response to changes. This is already apparent as more and more supply chains begin to adopt digital twins and supply chain control towers.
Education and Training for Future Supply Chain Workers
At this point, it’s probably quite clear how important skill with technology will be for all logistics workers in the future. Computers and automated systems have already infiltrated nearly every component of supply chains and there’s no sign that this trend will ever stop or reverse. This doesn’t mean, however, that prospective workers should ignore important interpersonal and business skills. Collaboration between various workers from different backgrounds and fields is going to become critical in the next few years.
For these reasons, anyone looking to secure a career within the supply chain should consider pursuing programs and educational opportunities that foster all of the following items.
General Tech Literacy
More than likely, a lack of knowledge about basic software and processes will be a nonstarter for most supply chain companies in the future. With the adoption of technology innovations and its implementation across all industries, the requirement to fill these roles is becoming increasingly important.
A problem that many people who are new to the workforce face is the paradox of employers wanting more experience from candidates. At the same time, there is a large push to get supply chain positions filled with new, fresh faces to the industry. It seems like it would be impossible to point to any related experiences when applying for your first job in the field without any real work experience.
However, there are ways of obtaining experience, even before you start applying for work. For instance, you may seek out shadowing opportunities at logistics companies.
In doing so, you’ll be doing more than simply putting some experience under your belt. In fact, you’ll also begin developing connections that can help you advance your career down the road. While it may be frustrating to have to put in these shadowing hours without pay, it could provide you with a great opportunity later on when your future interviewer asks about your work experience in the field.
Furthermore, any type of work can be counted toward job experience, if you frame it in the right light. For example, working at a fast food restaurant requires patience, dedication, and planning. If you have these intangibles, you will be a great asset to any company, and supply chain managers will notice these skills right away.
Set your sights on earning a degree in supply chain management. There is a lot of room to grow in the supply chain industry. Moreover, supply chain technology is only expected to grow in the future. If you’re strongly considering a supply chain career, think long-term and get some certificates and degrees under your belt. There are associates, bachelors, and masters programs that all help supply chain candidates stand out amongst applicants. These degrees could be in logistics, operations management, supply chain management, and much more.
On the technology side, there are a number of certification programs that can be utilized. Tech is a big topic in the supply chain industry at this point. Holding some sort of knowledge, degree or certification in this area is nothing but beneficial. Technological innovations and workflows increase demand for supply chain professionals who understand them.
There’s no way of telling exactly what the future will hold. However, we can be reasonably certain that technology is going to continue playing a big role in global supply chain operations.
Technology has helped us overcome seemingly insurmountable problems, and it will continue to do so. However, human workers will always be necessary throughout the supply chain. To become a great asset to their future company, those considering a career in logistics should sharpen up their tech skills as much as possible.
If you’re currently looking for a job in the logistics industry, Redwood is hiring! Check out our career page now!