What has been happening?
This week I was discussing with colleagues the ‘state of play’ concerning promotion of logistics as a profession. Our conclusion was that nothing much has been achieved in the past thirty years.
In Australia there are five associations concerned with aspects of supply chains. For planning there is APICSau; for transport it is CILTA; distribution has two associations, the SCLAA and the LAA and for procurement it is CIPSA. While some co-operate for special events, such as the bi-annual SMART Conference they do not speak with one voice to governments.
When President of APICS in Australia (now called APICSau), I was advised by the then Federal Minister of Industry that to be heard in Canberra, all the associations concerned with aspects of supply chains should elect a lobbyist to speak on their behalf. Until that happened, the associations would have fewer opportunities to meet with ministers and be members of review committees on matters of professional concern to members.
Why is this important? One of the critical objectives for an association is recognition of its professionalism through the availability of public education and training programs; the accountants have shown how important this is. However, in recent years there has been a reduction in university courses in Australia concerned with supply chains and logistics. Also, the current reduction in funding by State governments to vocational colleges means that the Diploma of Logistics is too expensive for individuals to consider and therefore colleges will cease offering the course due to lack of demand.
Without the availability of recognised programs presented by qualified and knowledgeable people, industry and the general public will not perceive the value of supply chains and logistics to the well being of the country. And industry will employ accountants and engineers to fill logistics positions.
The situation concerning associations is similar throughout Asia. The Asia Pacific Logistics Federation (APLF) has been established for many years and one of its initial objectives was to establish and have recognised by governments, a region-wide qualification for logisticians. This has not happened.
Is the situation going to change? I was unsuccessful in convincing the other associations to come together and I am sure that my successors have tried. It is now in the hands of those leading the many associations throughout the region. The urgency for action in the education and training area is evident.