The global pandemic highlighted the countless ways in which supply chain management is essential to keeping society running. Furthermore, it offered numerous inspirational examples of the profession literally saving lives — including incredible efforts in overcoming a dangerous personal-protective equipment shortage, swiftly pivoting in order to manufacture and deliver critical items, setting up the complex cold-chain for vaccines, and rapidly identifying new partners amid an ongoing crisis.
Supply chain professions rose to the challenge of the last 12-plus months — and have been rewarded for doing so. The Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) recently released its 2021 Supply Chain Salary and Career Report, which is a refreshingly positive story for the profession after an extraordinarily stressful year. The report reveals good news across several areas, including excellent job security, high levels of career satisfaction, fast job placement and more.
Mental health safeguarded
ASCM researchers found that nearly all (95%) of the nearly 2,100 surveyed supply chain professionals kept their jobs at a time when U.S. unemployment rose to a record high of 14.7%. This demonstrates the vital importance of the supply chain function during a disaster.
Excellent career satisfaction
Additionally, 70% of respondents rated their career satisfaction at an 8 or higher out of 10, with 88% reporting a positive outlook about the supply chain profession. This strong result can be linked to four factors:
1. Job security: The psychological benefits of having job security while many friends, family members, and neighbours were losing their livelihoods cannot be understated.
2. Increased recognition: Supply chain professionals have had a highly visible role during the pandemic, leading to increased appreciation for their efforts. This is a powerful contributor to job satisfaction, which can even outweigh compensation.
3. Solid salaries: Pew Research found that about one-third of all households have been affected by reduced hours or pay cuts due to the pandemic’s economic fallout. Supply chain professionals bucked this trend with solid salaries (an average starting salary of $60,000 and median salary of $86,000). Plus, 59% of respondents received a salary increase this year while only 10% reported a salary reduction. APICS-certified supply chain professionals reported a median salary 27% higher than those without one of the designations.
4. Good benefits: Furthermore, 81% of respondents are satisfied with their benefits. About half (45%) enjoy four weeks or more paid time off per year, nearly all have paid holidays, and almost 70% have paid family/medical leave.
Recent graduates and experienced professionals snapped up
High demand for supply chain professionals during the pandemic translated to fast job placement for both new college graduates and experienced professionals. Of new college graduates, 41% found a role in less than a month and 27% in one-to-three months. For professionals already working in the field, one-third secured a job in less than a month of starting their search. These figures are particularly impressive when considered against the background of the wider labor market collapse.
Job placement rates may have been boosted by the increase in remote working arrangements (48%), which served to broaden talent pools and remove geographical limits when searching for employment.
Emphasizing sought-after skills
ASCM research identified three areas for upskilling that reflect three key trends: increased focus on risk, a higher profile for supply management and digital transformation.
1. Supply chain risk management skills were in high demand as organizations rapidly shifted their supply chain strategies to prioritize risk management and resilience.
2. Leadership skills proved to be in higher demand, reflecting the supply chain profession’s increased profile and influence over 2020 to 2021.
How to capitalize on the good news
Finally, supply chain leaders can leverage the findings in ASCM’s report to support supply chain investment in diversity initiatives, hiring, technology and workforce development, as well as increase the function’s organizational influence. Here are six steps to maximize the opportunities:
1. Create an environment where diversity of thought, influence and input are valued. Diversity, equity and inclusion in human resources policies is not enough. Supply chain has an opportunity to lead the way in developing programs designed to recruit, retain and promote diversity, particularly women and people of color.
2. Broadcast the benefits of working in supply chain to attract new talent. This could involve creating a recruitment video or including a paragraph in job advertisements that underscores proven benefits such as excellent job security, high career satisfaction and solid salaries.
3. Boost talent retention by sharing ASCM’s 2021 Supply Chain Salary and Career Report with supply chain teams and discuss the positive outlook for the profession, especially when understood in the context of other professions ravaged by the crisis.
4. Increase organizational influence by sharing supply chain’s strong performance during the pandemic to help the function gain a seat at the decision-making table.
5. Focus on developing and hiring for in-demand skillsets, such as risk management, leadership and digital supply chain, to grow the capabilities of the team in a targeted manner that matches business priorities.
Create a business case for retaining additional team members hired during the pandemic. Demonstrate how increased resources can be used to consolidate and improve upon gains including faster response times, digital transformation and resilience.
To learn more about supply chain careers and leadership, view the sessions in the "Talent, Leadership and Culture" track at The 2021 ASCM CONNECT Annual Conference in October.