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ASCM Insights

Engaging Future Talent


More and more organizations today are discovering nontraditional ways to fill the growing talent gap. Some are founding entirely new technical schools. Others are hiring ex-convicts. And companies including IBM are tapping into people who lack advanced degrees.

An article in the Raleigh, North Carolina-based News & Observer describes a 12-month-long apprenticeship program that was launched by the IBM office in the state’s Research Triangle Park (RTP) innovation hub. The initiative enables people with only high school diplomas to gain valuable skills in coding, cybersecurity and more.

The piece tells the story of Tony Byrd, a 27-year-old father of two, who had been working at the coffee shop in the IBM facility’s main lobby since graduating high school about 10 years ago. Byrd recently completed his apprenticeship, which enabled him to get paid while gaining 200 hours of education.

“Now you can find him buying coffee from the same bar he used to run,” the article says, “except this time as a full-time IBM employee.”

The program began at IBM’s RTP office in 2017. Since then, about 200 trainees have graduated, 90% of them joining the IBM staff. As an added benefit, IBM Director of Career and Skills Kelli Jordan says the training has increased the company’s workforce diversity. “We do see candidates who may have not been able to go to a traditional college but have been able to build skills,” she says.

Jordan also told the News & Observer that the concept was “born of necessity” because of the worsening skills shortage. A new Korn Ferry study, which includes a country-by-country analysis, supports this reasoning. The report says there simply aren’t enough people to fill open jobs. Furthermore, by 2030, the global gap will total more than 85 million openings.

Making the case

Just as IBM knows it must recruit differently — with both classroom and real-life projects for its apprentices — ASCM is addressing the ongoing supply chain talent gap through our Case Competition, in collaboration with Deloitte Consulting. In the preceding edition of SCM Now Impact, I shared information on last week’s regional rounds, where 64 teams competed in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Chicago, Hyderabad, Mexico City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Singapore. On behalf of all of us at ASCM and Deloitte, I want to congratulate those who will be advancing to the finals at ASCM CONNECT, September 13-15, in New Orleans:

  • Georgetown University
  • Jade University, Germany
  • J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies, India
  • Rutgers University
  • Singapore University of Technology and Design
  • University of Houston
  • University of San Diego
  • University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire

Ken Olsen, managing director and global supply chain planning leader at Deloitte Consulting, puts it well, calling the Case Competition “an invaluable opportunity to challenge students to address complex, evolving supply chain scenarios that will serve them in their future careers.”

This year, we saw incredible growth and diversity in participation, with 309 teams representing 137 schools from 24 countries. A total of 1,236 undergraduate and graduate students are competing, collaborating and learning about supply chain — while getting inspired and engaged to be an integral part of tomorrow’s networks. I hope you will come to New Orleans to join us in cheering them on.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted through

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