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Getting the Kids Hooked on Supply Chain Management

How do you explain business situations and supply chain management practices in a way that gets kids excited? You make a game of it. Business on the Move has done just that.

The hope is that the recently launched board game, sponsored by 50 logistics-related companies and institutions, spurs business interest among younger generations and fosters a deeper understanding of how products move from Point A to Point B. While aimed, for now at least, at the UK market, Business on the Move puts real-world logistics, supply chain management, and business decision-making power into the hands of children and young adults aged 9 to 19.

According to the website, it “challenges players to run a business that must respond to customers' orders, moving different products from China to their UK market by combinations of air, sea, rail, and road as quickly, as profitably, and as responsibly as they can.” The game gets kids thinking about questions supply chain professionals always have top of mind: What is the best way to deliver products? What will it cost? Will we turn a profit? How can we grow our business? How can we achieve a low carbon footprint?

It's not surprising that we're seeing more initiatives like this popping up. In fact, it's more necessary than we think, and generally speaking we probably could use more of this kind of early-grade instruction. As EBN has reported (see The Talent Pinch and Saving Supply Chain Mid-Management Talent), there is an increasing worldwide, cross-industry shortage of supply chain management and logistics talent across all organizational levels, from entry-level staff positions to senior managers.  

Over the last decade or so industry leaders and the academic community have addressed this with college courses and university degrees specializing in supply chain management. To some extent, that has been a successful in bringing greater awareness, more focused attention, and intelligent, capable people to a business area critical to the global economy.

However, a huge gap remains. A study from the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, “The Logistics of Education and Education of Logistics,” found that the United States alone will have approximately 270,200 logistics-related job openings that will need to be filled every year through 2018 to keep up with projected industry growth. In the Middle East, a 2011 study from B2G Consulting, “State of Supply Chain Education in the Middle East,” found that, while the region is quickly becoming a world-class logistics hub, “corporate training and educational programs in the Middle East were not sufficiently addressing knowledge gaps. These gaps grow larger each year as more and more experienced workers reach retirement age,” according to this article in ITP Business Portal's Arabiansupplychain.com. In the big emerging market known collectively as Africa, the skills gap is a pressing concern as the region builds out its mining, oil and gas, telecommunications, and IT industries, notes this story in The Skills Portal.

That's what is happening just in a few places. Multiply that by many other regions and it's clear we have to have to get many, many more people into this profession to meet the most basic operational needs and likely economic growth scenarios.

Creating supply chain and logistics interest and understanding at younger ages may be a key to doing that. By showing a younger generation why supply chain and logistics matter and showing that there are promising and lucrative career options available, more kids and teens may be willing to add to the list of things they'd like to do when then grow up. The Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, for instance, has already started to do that. It's working with technical and career high schools to introduce logistics classes into the curriculum.

For the younger set, two thirds of Business on the Move's initial production run will be routed free-of-charge to some 500 UK schools that have been nominated by the organization's sponsors, according to the site. Additionally, the group's platinum and gold sponsors will host more than 25 training events during the 2014 autumn school term and will invite schools and organization to explore the linked learning activities.

What else can be done to fill the need and close the talent gap?

15 comments on “Getting the Kids Hooked on Supply Chain Management

  1. prabhakar_deosthali
    July 24, 2014

    The game “Monopoly” has remained a very popular game over many generations and is played by the kids all over the world.

     

    A board game similar to this with a focus on supply chain management can become as popular as Monopoly if designed well.

  2. _hm
    July 25, 2014

    Provide them with lots of money – for study and for job. They will flood supply chain management, just for money.

     

  3. Adeniji Kayode
    July 26, 2014

    Cartoon is really a good idea but it's just that the involvement is one sided and limited too.

  4. Ashu001
    July 26, 2014

    hm,

    I don't think simply throwing Money at a Problem like this will deliver the best results here.

    Look at Finance(Investment Banking,Markets) for comparison's sake.

    We want to attract Really bright and talented kids to this space who will and stay constantly engaged here.

    That needs a whole lot of thought & Creativity involved here.

    Regards

    Ashish.

     

     

     

  5. Ashu001
    July 26, 2014

    Prabhakar,

    Monopoly was a Blockbuster Game in its Time.Just wonder if something similar will definitely cut it today.

    Today's Kids are too hooked onto their Smartphones playing Candy Crush and the likes.

    Maybe that's the kind of a Game they need to get Kids Hooked?

    Just wondering.

     

  6. Houngbo_Hospice
    July 28, 2014

    @Rich, I am not a cartoon enthusiast, but if that will help pass the message across, why not? What characters do you think the “gang” will be comprised of?

  7. Houngbo_Hospice
    July 28, 2014

    @tech4people: If the game is interactive and fun, I think kids will get interested. For instance, my kids like playing games that involve the whole food production process.

  8. Himanshugupta
    July 31, 2014

    Games are good way to attracy young generation towards STEM but without proper motivation in the school the experiment cannot be successful. I think the whole point of the game is to invoke curiosity and then hope that that will lead youngsters to drive towards STEM carrer.

  9. Himanshugupta
    July 31, 2014

    I agree that money cannot be the solution to all the problems. However, we often see that even STEM graduates steer towards finance/management roles because of good growth and opportunities.

  10. ahdand
    July 31, 2014

    @Himanshugupta: Yes true but money can influence a lot 

  11. ahdand
    July 31, 2014

    @Himanshugupta: Yes if you can get into the minds and hearts of the next generation via games then it's a big achievement. There are certain things which have been developed in the form of games so it has already started. Only need to push it through the process   

  12. Ashu001
    July 31, 2014

    Himanshu,

    While I agree that was a serious issue a few years back;with today's Graduates its a totally different story.

    Most Grads no longer see finance/Management as a Get Rich Quick career(for obvious reasons if you have seen the Job Losses there it would'nt be so surprising).

    Plus,the Really terrible Work-Culture,Long-Hours and lack of Creative Fulfilment[How many Rocket Scientists do you really need to run a Hedge Fund)???

    Not just that thanks to the Mess caused by Global Central Banks in the name of “Stability”;avenues to make Money in the Markets have gone down tremendously.

    Its obvious if such markets no longer exist there is no real need for more employees there as well.

    I have seen feed-back effects on Lower MBA Univerisities as well[A Good number are either Shutting Shop Globally or shifting to alternative courses].

     

  13. Ashu001
    July 31, 2014

    Hospice,

    Yes but the Game also will need a great deal of Promotion and Encouragment as well.

    Else it will tend to falter.

  14. t.alex
    August 20, 2014

    Yes its true that college students know very little about supply chain management/logistics wise. However, this type of career needs a lot of hands on experience as well as great deal of promotion. Companies need to encourge existing employees with promotion/ education and also attract young employees with intereship to provide hands on experience.

  15. PaulChau
    August 14, 2018

    Every subject matter becomes more interesting when it is being explained in a game format. Thus, by taking this approach to get the startups to be more keen on this topic is indeed the way to go. During the initial stage, it obviously might still be tough in getting their attention. However, once they know how things actually can get interesting to learn the ropes of supply chain, they are bound to get glued to the topic. It is all about luring them in before making them coming back for more.

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