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ASCM Insights

Fill the Supply Chain Talent Shortage by Upskilling Workers


Notoriety of supply chain has boomed over the past few years — thanks to pandemic disruptions to inventory and changing consumer behaviors — and recognition of the industry’s necessity has only grown. Although we’ve long warned about talent shortages in supply chain, expressed concern about mismatched skillsets and urged businesses to become more attractive employers, hiring problems persist.

Last month, supply chain and logistics recruitment firm Alcott Global released the results of its survey of 300 senior executives in supply chain. Half (50%) of respondents named the talent shortage as one of the most significant issues facing the industry in the next 12 months. DC Velocity, reporting on the survey, points out that “what available talent there is lacks the right skill set needed to succeed in supply chain management," with 64% of respondents believing finding candidates is the biggest hiring challenge.

The “right skill set” includes both hard and soft skills. The hard skills named by respondents include “understanding end–to-end supply chain operation, mastery of data analytics, being up-to-date with supply chain technologies and understanding risk management.” More than half (58%) of those surveyed cite a “shortage of talent in data analytics, optimization, and automation” as a barrier to hiring.

The soft skills that candidates lack, according to the executives, include problem-solving and adaptability. Even standard workplace etiquette, such as maintaining eye contact and navigating interpersonal relationships, are difficult for some recent graduates who may have been stunted in part by the pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reports. 

Planning for the future

Some staffing issues may ease in the future as more students enter undergraduate programs in supply chain. Amanda Peacher of Marketplace reported last year that applications at Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, “one of the top programs in the country” for supply chain management, are up 10%, a heartening figure for hiring managers. Plus, “salaries in supply chain management… already average $10,000 to $20,000 higher than entry-level positions in other fields,” Peacher writes, making the career more attractive to students.

Professionals who want to find these high-paying jobs can start by investing in their own upskilling. Some changes they can make now include staying informed about industry trends, finding a mentor, building a strong network and pursuing further studies.

Acquiring a certification or certificate or attending a conference are tangible ways supply chain professionals can compete in the job market — and offering these same benefits to employees will make any company more desirable as an employer. ASCM’s certifications prepare supply chain professionals with the knowledge and industry insights that recruiters truly value, from a Supply Chain Technology Certificate to a Certification in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution. In fact, ASCM’s 2023 Supply Chain Salary and Career Report about salaries and job satisfaction for supply chain professionals in Canada and Europe and the United States proves that professionals with these designations earn even more than their peers.

Plus, professionals who attend ASCM Connect 2023: North America will be able to add to their industry knowledge right away, network with like-minded professionals — and pave their way to a better, more fulfilling career.

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 at

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