Some job titles carry obvious duties, like firefighter. Others aren't always immediately clear, like supply chain manager or logistics analyst. There are openings in these less obvious jobs, but those already in the field are having difficulty convincing young people to make it a career.
A webinar called "Building Buffalo Niagara Supply Chain Workforce" Wednesday, sponsored by World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara, looked at how to explain the wide-ranging duties in supply chains to those looking for jobs and careers for themselves or their children.
The webinar said Buffalo Niagara’s binational economy was built on trade and logistics, and remaining competitive today requires recruit a continuous supply of workers to support growth. The patterns of shipping in these COVID times, especially, reflect the growing need for workers. Recruitment might start in high school among those looking ahead to careers.
Niagara University Supply Chain Management Associate Professor Jim Kling said businesses can help the recruitment process.
"Giving us some examples of a problem. It doesn’t need to be a long case study. These are just quick little things," Kling said. "Also, this is potentially the way to get the name of your company in front of students. And I’d be happy to work with anybody. I’m not talking about a big problem solving, I’m just talking about the kind of day-to-day thing that people do in their careers."
Schools have clubs for just about everything and that list can alter over time and technological change. Charter School for Applied Technologies has a Logistics Club, but teacher Chris Bigouette has to explain to students this is another job and career field for them to consider.
Bigouette agreed, recruitment is easier when prospective employers and schools work together.
"The industry and the educators and we create a relationship. Dr. Kling says it’s networks. I say relationships, because I need them invested in the community as much as I am invested in the community and our school is invested in the community," Bigouette said, "and that will allow us to figure out the best way to work for them and for us. But we need a pipeline of a job at the end of the tunnel for these students."
This field is often called logistics, but speakers in the webinar said there’s much more than that, since the field includes everything from people loading trucks to those who do the computer work which manages everything involved in shipments in and out to managing the staff.
Speakers reminded that everything comes through the supply chain. However, from this region to across the border, educators are having problems explaining what happens in supply chain management and logistics and the array of fields and careers involved in a growing area of the economy.
"There’s a whole industry behind the industry, and I think if all levels of that are included, if you need to meet a certain number for this to be a focus industry, I think it’s fair to look at that and, also, where do we go," said Glenn Scott, a human resources vice president based in Charlotte, NC for 28 Rich Products locations. "We’re going to individual varieties of different products. We start with retail, of course, but I’ve seen over the past year, with the technology shift, the marketplace is now at my front door."