Getting the careers message to students about supply chains and logistics

Roger OakdenGlobal Logistics

Promotion events are successful.

Last week I was invited to take part in an information evening about careers in Procurement, for students at the University of Melbourne.

It was a very successful event with about 50 undergraduate and post graduate students attending. The outcome was that 50 more people knew about the potential benefits to themselves and employers from careers in supply chains and specifically in Procurement. The downside was that at the beginning of the event, most of the students did not know that challenging jobs existed in these areas.

This is not surprising because although the University of Melbourne has a highly regarded business school and faculty of commerce, the subject focus in supply chains appears to be restricted to operations management. This situation is not unusual in universities throughout the region because of supply and demand factors.

On the supply side, if there is a proposal to establish a new course (or even a stream) in supply chains and logistics, one of the early challenges is where to locate the course. Due to the inter-disciplinary learning, there is not a natural ‘home’ for the course in institutions that are traditionally vertically structured. This difficulty is sufficient to stop the introduction of a new course.

On the demand side, universities and colleges are businesses that want to attract students and so they promote courses with high enrolment and income. Current courses in the region concerned with supply chains and logistics do not attract high enrolments because they are not strongly promoted. Low enrolment means a low promotion budget, therefore student demand remains low.

There is not a magic solution to this challenge; continual promotion to universities concerning careers by your professional organisation is a positive move (the event that I attended was presented by CIPSA – the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply Australia). The other will be a realisation throughout the business community that growth of electronic trading means a reduced or changed role for intermederies (retailers, wholesalers, importers etc.) in supply chains.

The effect will be a growing importance of supply chains and logistics in building relationships between the principal (or brand name business) and their final customers. This will require more professionals qualified in the discipline, therefore pressure will be exerted on universities to provide relevant courses.

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About the Author

Roger Oakden

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With my background as a practitioner, consultant and educator, I am uniquely qualified to provide practical learning in supply chains and logistics. I have co-authored a book on these subjects, published by McGraw-Hill. As the program Manager at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, I developed and presented the largest supply chain post-graduate program in the Asia Pacific region, with centres in Melbourne, Singapore and Hong Kong. Read More...