The heart of any business lies in its supply chain. With a booming demand and an ever-increasing influx of people, Supply Chain Education has emerged as a necessity in equipping the players with relevant skills that are crucial to the success of any business in today’s time and age. In this story, we delve into the fundamental necessity of Supply Chain Education in the present scenario and the role of industry stalwarts into realizing it.

Supply Chain Education is the pedagogical practice of imparting relevant skills,courses and training to supply chain professionals on the profession. Starting from the elementary members in the warehouses
to the major heads of logistics companies, Supply Chain education primarily caters to every unit in the logistics and warehousing ladder.

In today’s time and age, Supply chain management caters to how businesses utilise their supply chain capabilities to drive competitive advantage, from procuring raw materials to delivery of finished goods. It is increasingly pivotal to businesses of all size and shapes. The significance of running an efficient and effective supply chain has developed a need for professionals who have acquired the necessary educational foundation to help an organisation manage and optimize cost-effective operations and deliver superior customer value.

For those who plan on growing their careers in this domain, it is fundamentally important
to understand how education, including both degrees and continuing professional
development, can help them carve a niche for themselves in this field.
Supply chain education thus works as an added advantage as well as a crucial requirement to understand the nitty-gritty of the system; how to better equip oneself with the right set of skills, and how to tackle
problems and issues that come up in the supply chain.

SUPPLY CHAIN EDUCATION : THE DESIDERATUM IN TODAY’S TIME

Supply Chain Education is important in order to reap the advantages that a good supply business chain has for the entire business. Supply Chain is becoming increasingly important for businesses to make a mark in whichever industry they wish to. As Krishan Batra, President/CEO, Institute for Supply Management underlines its relevance, “The success of any business links inextricably to the performance of its supply chain. If you want business success (and who doesn’t?),you have to make your supply chain successful too. Companies with global supply chains—a category which includes a fast-growing number of corporations, medium-sized companies, and even small businesses—can be standing on a cost base of which 90% is attributable to supply chain expenditure”.

Supply Chain has primarily been the heart rate monitor of the financial health of a business. It reflects what is wrong in the entire business or detects any discrepancies in any level of the chain. Mr Batra adds “Supply chain costs feature strongly in the demise of many companies that become insolvent.“

THUS, SPECIALISED EDUCATION AND TRAINING ON SUPPLY CHAIN HAS BECOME THE CALL OF THE TIMES TO MINIMIZE COSTS AND MAXIMIZE BENEFITS IN A BUSINESS.

As Mr Batra adds, “The supply chain, as its name suggests, is only as strong as its weakest link. Unfortunately, some of the links are unlikely to be under the direct control of your business organisation. To some extent, your suppliers hold your business success (or lack thereof) in their hands. That’s why it’s essential to work in collaboration, at least with primary suppliers, to try and minimise supply chain uncertainty. If you want to be sure your business will be not just surviving, but thriving over the next five years and beyond, your supply chain must be at the centre of management attention.”

Thus, so far as equipping the various players with relevant skills and training is concerned, he feels “The time is worth taking though, and investments worth making, even if you need to supplement the skills within your organisation with those of external experts to address some of your supply chain issues and challenges.”

While talking about interactive participation, Alpana Chaturvedi, Chief Executive Officer at My Logistics Gurukul, shared her key points on this regard. She said, “Conducting a Training- Need Analysis and identifying improvement areas within teams is a good start to fill up the gaps. If learning is tied to “What’s in it for me”, participation will be much more. Individuals can create their own learning path, using technology and can reach professional goals. This will create a win- win situation for both the learner and the organization.

“For any transformation to happen, the change is required at all levels and education has to percolate from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy. The Supply Chain industry, with its sub sectors of warehousing , E-Commerce etc is undergoing high tech innovations. So whether it is the blue collar or white collar – education, training, and learning new skills is no longer a matter of choice but mandatory. In fact, more so for the white collars as they would be the ones leading and implementing the changes.”

~Alpana Chaturvedi, Chief Executive Officer at My Logistics Gurukul

Training modules need to be interactive, with case studies, role plays and relevant. In a classroom environment, Learners learn from each other as much as they learn from the trainers. Discussion of case studies, best practices also add to the learning experience of the individual.”

With the advent of digitization, especially the Internet of Things and Vehicles (IoT and IoV) it has becoming a pressing need of the hour to be technology-savvy and have sufficient knowledge to transform the traditional supply chain model to become agile and efficient. This calls for suitable training and development in the field of supply chain.

SUPPLY CHAIN EDUCATION:HOW SHOULD IT PERMEATE IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN LADDER?

While touching upon Supply chain education, an immediate thought to reckon with is: Who should this be aimed at? When we talk about Supply Chain Education, do we concern ourselves with the players from every level of the business ladder or do we imply the business heads or the basic heads at the elementary level of the chain?

Mr Batra has aptly said “The supply chain, as its name suggests, is only as strong as its weakest link.”

Since every person associated with the supply chain plays their own defining role in the chain, it is imperative to instill every member with the requisite set of skills.

“Mass-scale digitalization of the supply chain requires a new-collar workforce equipped with specialized skills and training. Companies will still need drivers, but to thrive in a global marketplace, the next generation of workers needs to possess technical and digital skills alongside critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities. Leading supply-chain organizations today recognize the need for an entirely new type of employee. Call it the “newcollar” worker, one who is critical to the future of supply chain and logistics.”

~Krishan Batra, CEO, Institute for Supply Management

He says, “Supply chain focused education is required at both the level for white collar and blue collar. Such programs shorten the learning curve of employees for industry specific needs.With increasing complexity of supply chain in globalized world and continuous need of optimization of each activity, organization require upgrade in their talent pool.”

While speaking about key areas of learning, Ms Chaturvedi shares how Customer Relationship Management, Technological trends, Data Analytics, Understanding the whole business and Team management together are the critical areas of learning.

She shares,” The present working environment is rapidly changing and teams could be spread across remote locations.Managers need to learn the skills of handling teams, communicating across different cultures, locations and even time zones. They need to be familiar with usage of different tools to be able to delegate, check, provide feedback and have discussions across the board leveraging technology and individual strengths.”

“Supply chain focused education is required at both the level for white collar and blue collar. Logistics and supply chain as an industry provides employment to more than 22 million individuals in India. Out of this blue-collar positions contributes a significant pie, which includes unskilled, semi skilled and skilled workforce. With increasing adoption of automation and technology, demand for semi-skilled and skilled work force is increasing. Smooth supply of such semi skilled or skilled manpower is becoming a challenge day by day. Government has initiated programs for developing such workforce under NSDC initiatives, on the other hand industry is also working on it through vocational / on job training programs.”

~Vikash Khatri, Founder, Aviral Consulting

BLUE OR WHITE?

The booming logistics sector is likely to add around 1.49 lakh new job opportunities from April to September in the current financial year, according to a Team Lease Report titled ‘Employment Outlook’. Mr Khatri while speaking on these lines, says “Logistics and supply chain as an industry provides employment to more than 22 million individuals in India. Out of this, blue-collar positions contributes a significant pie, which includes unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workforce.

With increasing adoption of automation and technology, demand for semi-skilled and skilled work force is increasing. Smooth supply of such semi skilled or skilled manpower is becoming a challenge day by day. Government has initiated programs for developing such workforce under NSDC initiatives, on the other hand industry is also working on it through vocational / on job training programs.”

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