The talent gap continues to be a concern in the supply chain/logistics sector. To help combat it, many universities and educational institutions are working to attract new students to the sector, and provide appropriate training. One such school is the University of Washington, College of Engineering-Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics master’s program.
Inbound Logistics recently caught up Bill Keough, the program’s managing director and professor, to find out how the University of Washington is addressing the talent gap.
IL: What areas of interest are your supply chain students most focused on?
Keough: Most of our students are currently working in the transportation and logistics field. The majority want to acquire end-to-end knowledge about how excellence in transportation can contribute to optimizing a complex global supply chain.
IL: You’ve seen your supply chain program mature over the years. How do today’s supply chain undergrads differ from previous years?
Keough: Today we see more students who already have undergraduate degrees in the supply chain field. They also seem far more directed in their career development. Many of them know exactly what kind of role they would like to assume and they leverage the extensive network of contacts they develop in the program to create a concrete plan to reach those objectives.
IL: What advice would you give high school students seeking a career in supply chain/logistics/transportation?
Keough: Go out and get some real-life work experience to see if the field appeals to you. Firms such as UPS and Amazon are always looking for bright people to work in their distribution and transportation operations, particularly during the holidays.
IL: Do you partner with any private businesses to help close the talent gap by training qualified candidates for the supply chain workforce?
Keough: We have several types of partnerships in this effort. We work closely with a number of recruiting firms focused on filling senior roles in the supply chain field. We also have a large network of executive contacts in the supply chain space who frequently contact us to identify top talent for positions that haven’t even been posted yet. We leverage the expertise of the VP-level executives on our advisory board to understand the skills and abilities they are seeking for their supply chain teams, to ensure our curriculum remains tightly linked to the marketplace’s current requirements.