Last week, we were all shocked to hear about a devastating factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 300 people. My heart goes out to the families affected by this tragedy. This kind of news makes us count our blessings; then, it makes business leaders reexamine their supply chains—the transparency of them, the complexity of them, and the ethics of them. Now more than ever, successful, respected businesses need knowledgeable and experienced supply chain professionals.
Many business leaders already are capitalizing on the power of effective supply chain management. Supply chain excellence is a competitive advantage, and well-run supply chains create value in organizations. This is true in North America and around the world. For these reasons, the profile of supply chain and operations management professionals is rising. Professionals, like you, are directly influencing the success of businesses.
Likewise, supply chains themselves are becoming more complicated. In these pages of APICS Operations Management Now, I’ve written about how an earthquake in Japan can disrupt manufacturing on the other side of world, how tainted meat can find its way across an entire continent, and more.
Now consider this: In its 2012 report, “Manufacturing the Future: The next era of global growth and innovation,” the McKinsey Global Institute notes “the new era of manufacturing will be marked by highly agile, networked enterprises that use information and analytics as skillfully as they employ talent and machinery to deliver products and services to diverse global markets. In advanced economies, manufacturing will continue to drive innovation, exports, and productivity growth. In developing economies, manufacturing will continue to provide a pathway to higher living standards.”
The need for skilled supply chain and operations management professionals to help navigate these intricate systems is clear.
So, it was with great interest I read the April 24, 2013, Forbes article, “An Alternative Theory of the Skills Shortage.” Author Adam Ozimek indicates that, in fact, there is no skills shortage. He writes, “it is argued that manufacturers and STEM employers in general are trying to hire skilled workers but can’t find them. This is used sometimes as an argument for more skilled immigration, and it’s used as a case for structural unemployment. A common counterargument to this is that if there was a shortage you would be seeing a rise in wages in these industries, but for STEM workers and manufacturers in general you don’t see rising wages, ergo there is no skill shortage.”
What’s missing from his the argument is the difference between low-cost labor and skilled professionals. Companies that seek to hire and retain knowledge workers focus on long-term sustainable business models. They seek to hire qualified individuals that have critical thinking skills and application knowledge.
Unfortunately, as in Bangladesh, there are still locations worldwide where the low-cost labor field is the only opportunity for individuals to gain employment. However, the search for low-cost labor does not define nor adequately address the skills, competencies, or needs of leading organizations.
APICS helps fill an important need, which is reflected in the most recent APICS Operations Management Employment Outlook. No matter where you are in the world, with APICS education and certification, professionals’ salaries and employment potential improves.
Does your business have what it needs to operate a successful and sustainable supply chain? Do you, as a professional, have the skills and knowledge to make supply chain a strategic part of your organization? Either way, APICS can help. Visit apics.org for more information about APICS education and certifications.