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Addressing the skills gap in the supply chain industry


Accelerated technological progress and a lack of understanding of the importance of effective supply chain management outside the field have created a skills gap for the industry. Dr Jörg Ries, Programme Director of our online MSc in Supply Chain Management and Global Logistics, looks at the issues and how to address them.

Supply Chain

One of the most prominent factors affecting the skills gap has been the acceleration in technological changes, which has transformed industry in recent years. Disruptive technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence or blockchain are likely to alter supply chains in coming years.

“Supply chain management has traditionally been linked very closely to managing technology in manufacturing, transportation and information systems,” says Dr Ries. “Therefore, it is not a surprise that emerging technologies are likely to transform supply chains fundamentally.”

Due to the continuous development of these technologies, traditional supply chain knowledge will not be sufficient for the future. That is not to say traditional knowledge and skills will be obsolete, as a sound expertise in the field is always required. But it will also be important to understand how new business models and technologies will affect the way of creating and delivering products and services most effectively and to manage the required process and technology innovations.

Dr Ries suggests that another factor contributing to the skills gap is a general lack of understanding of what supply chain management as a discipline involves. Rather than seeing it as a concept of intra- and inter-organisational integration and coordination to gain and sustain competitive advantage, those outside the field tend to associate it with low-level activities, which leads to a neglect of important strategic issues.

It is not a surprise that emerging technologies are likely to transform supply chains fundamentally.

In order to address the skills gap, Dr Ries says that business schools and universities need to actively tackle these issues by providing the most up to date, relevant subject knowledge and the skill sets required for successfully managing supply chains in a complex, increasingly uncertain and technology-driven environment. It’s important to provide students with an understanding of real industry problems by using cases, business simulations and industry speakers that help to unlock strategic potential in the future.

Learn more about the MSc in Supply Chain Management and Global Logistics programme.