Building a younger, more diverse generation of supply chain professionals

As new approaches to technology shape the future of logistics, so too are new attitudes towards workforce diversity…

As global trade intensifies, the logistics industry faces higher expectations than ever before. As a result, supply chain management is rapidly evolving into a new age.

Now, more than ever before, consumers across the world expect fast delivery turnarounds and high-quality standards. This requires sophisticated strategies, with logistical oversight over numerous simultaneous networks.

In response to this and the lasting changes from the pandemic, companies looking to build their logistical resilience have responded by investing heavily in technology to create and manage supply chains with greater visibility.

This new-found enthusiasm for transformative investments in technology is very exciting but to make the technology work companies need to urgently address how they can attract and retain a new generation of talent that is well equipped to handling supply chains that are increasingly complex, global, and interconnected.

Attracting millennials and Gen Z to the supply chain

At present, lack of awareness, diversity issues, and working patterns are contributing factors holding the supply chain industry back from diversifying employee recruitment and improving employee retention.

It is now increasingly clear that if the industry doesn’t take bold steps to change, a young and diverse workforce will remain wishful thinking.

In most markets across the world, school curriculums do not include anything around the supply chain. Without significant progress on this front, it is unlikely that individuals from diverse backgrounds will develop ambitions to become supply chain professionals.

Working in the supply chain industry is stimulating and fast-paced. Many supply chain managers are often involved in every phase of a product’s life cycle, from acquisition to distribution, allocation to delivery. And at DP World, we are keen to ensure the next generation of talent is aware of this.

In our endeavour to highlight the opportunities our industry holds to people from young and diverse backgrounds, we have created a Global Education Programme designed to educate children on the world trade economy and the inner workings of global logistics.

To date, more than 28,000 students have participated in this programme across 25 countries in 14 languages. A stronger understanding among younger generations may be intangible, but we have gained 800 valued members of the DP World team as a result of this programme alone.

This kind of initiative is more important than ever before as the entire logistics industry is vulnerable to a significant skills shortage. And worryingly, research conducted by Deloitte found that the lack of diversity in our industry has exacerbated this.

The data shows that only 39% of roles in supply chain management are taken up by women, with women holding just 11% of executive positions. Overcoming this shortfall will also be critical to building a younger, more diverse generation of supply chain professionals.

Technology and recruitment

With technology now capable of analysing the end-to-end supply chain and advising on how to react when disruption arises, it is crucial that companies hire supply chain managers able to understand, analyse, and act upon exponential amounts of data.

Machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and the internet of things (IoT) have been a giant leap forward for the industry. If the industry wants to keep up pace with these emerging technologies, it is critical we recognize that the younger generation will be key.

We know that investing in the latest technology is already broadening our industry’s horizons to new and exciting innovations. Concurrent investment in education and recruitment will broaden it even further by creating a workforce adept at maximising the opportunities available from the technology at hand.

By building a young, diverse, and ambitious workforce, with the capacity to respond and handle the evolution afoot in supply chain management, we can open up our profession to even more possibilities.

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