The supply chain job market is changing and the academic and business communities need to ensure that their training programs are keeping pace, says Closs. Traditionally, educational and on-the-job training programs have focused on delivering very deep functional knowledge, he says, "but the market is telling us we have to train and develop people with a much broader perspective and understanding."
This trend is being driven by both employers and by supply-chain students and graduates. "Top students are looking for companies that emphasize a broadly defined and integrated supply chain with opportunities to work and learn across areas," Closs says. "At the same time companies are looking for students who have the desire to learn the supply chain in depth and also the capability to work cross-functionally."
This trend is evident internally at Michigan State as well, Closs says. "I am increasingly interacting across the university with different colleges, such as engineering, criminal justice and agriculture. These colleges are coming to us and saying, "˜we need supply chain talent.' What they really are saying is, "˜we need people that understand cross-functional trade-offs.'"
In response, Michigan State's supply chain school is actively working with the other schools to develop people who know how to work in teams with people outside their core areas. "We bring them together to solve unstructured problems, the type of problems they are likely to see in industry, with the same type of team environment," Closs says. "Universities typically are very good at in-depth and not so good at cross-functional, so what we are doing at MSU is working together in a proactive way to force interchanges between students and faculty. This ranges all the way from how faculty does research to how we put together classes and how we evaluate overall performance."
One example of how MSU is fostering collaboration is a joint project between supply chain, engineering and packaging students, he says. "We have people from all three areas working with some automotive companies to design a knock-down packaging process that provides maximum manufacturing flexibility, with the added caveat that the packaging is recyclable, he says. "This requires having engineering, packaging and supply chain talent all working together."
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Keywords: supply chain jobs, supply chain, supply chain management, transportation management, logistics management, supply management
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