Industry Report: Supply Chain Management is Becoming Younger, More Educated, More Diverse

October 24, 2017

Millennials are taking over and breaking stereotypes across the industry.

Everyone knows that the demographics of the Supply Chain industry are changing. They have to. Within a few years, demographers estimate that 400,000 baby boomers will be retiring in Canada every year. Within the Supply Chain industry, the looming – and in fact, already-started – retirement of baby boomers and shifting job responsibilities brought about by technology are creating a talent crisis.

It’s something that we’ve covered extensively  at Argentus. We’ve written about how the industry can fill the burgeoning gap in talent: by increasing educational opportunity, doing more outreach to young people, and improving communication about the vast career potential in the field – a field that until recently was stereotyped as transactional, hidebound and, in a word, boring.

Today’s Supply Chain professionals know that – especially at the highest levels – the field is anything but. And it looks like some of these efforts to avert the talent crisis have begun to bear fruit: a major new survey shows that millennials are moving into the workforce in a big way, changing its Supply Chain’s demographics and disrupting the industry.

The survey, conducted by Peerless Research Group, Supply Chain Management Review, APICS and APQC surveyed 676 millennials (between the ages of 22 and 37) in April 2017 to find out about their demographics, expectations, goals and current career status within the Supply Chain industry. It’s a far-reaching report with a lot of results busting down stereotypes both about Supply Chain and millennials themselves.

As a recruitment company specializing in Supply Chain and Procurement, Argentus sits at the nexus of a lot of these demographic changes. Needless to say, we read the report with great interest. Here were some of our biggest, and most surprising, takeaways:  

Careers are becoming more intentional:

  • When we speak with SCM professionals from the baby boomer and Gen X generations, it’s really common for us to hear, “I didn’t plan on going into Supply Chain, but I fell into it.” But this tendency is changing. The report found that 75% of millennials in Supply Chain jobs intentionally began their careers within the field.
  • Planning and Procurement are taking on a bigger role in the field: 22% of millennials surveyed are working in Planning and 21% in Procurement, compared to 15% in Logistics, 11% in Inventory Management, and 9% in Manufacturing.

Supposed “Job Hoppers” are actually staying put:

  • We’re maybe a ways past the 2008-2014 heyday of stereotyping millennials in the workforce. Companies are realizing millennials’ huge value as employees. With that in mind, the report still dispels some classic stereotypes about millennials in the workforce. There’s a perception that millennials are “job hoppers” who don’t have loyalty to their employers, but the survey found that 38% of millennial respondents have worked for just one employer their entire career. 65% had worked for their current employer for more than 5 years.

Educational opportunities are taking off:

  • One of the biggest growth areas in the field is the increasing prevalence of educational opportunities as more universities and colleges bring SCM programs online. 66% of the millennials surveyed have either undergraduate or graduate degrees in Supply Chain or Logistics. APICS conducted a similar survey in 2016 – this time of senior leaders in the field – and found that only 19% of the leaders surveyed had degrees in the field, which suggests that millennials are taking advantage of these increased educational opportunities.
  • 59% of the millennial supply chain employees surveyed have a bachelor’s degree of some kind, even if it’s not in Supply Chain or Logistics. The 2016 leadership survey found that only 45% of Supply Chain leaders had degrees. It’s worth mentioning that more companies are requiring degrees these days for sole contributor roles, so this might be a response to that market pressure.
  • Millennials are interested in continuing education in the field, suggesting it’s not just a fly-by-night career for them. 65% of the survey respondents indicated that they were planning on pursuing further education in the next 12 months.

The Gender gap is changing, yet persistent:        

  • More women are entering the Supply Chain field. 61% of the survey respondents were men, whereas 39% were women. It’s still not as close to even as it should be, but the breakdown was more evenly split than APICS 2016 leadership survey mentioned above: in that survey of Supply Chain leadership, 76% of respondents were male and only 24% were female. This indicates that more millennial women are entering the field than their Gen X and baby boomer counterparts. It also indicates that, as we’ve written about before, more needs to be done to bring women into Supply Chain leadership
  • There’s still a stubborn gender pay gap in the field, even for millennial employees. The average compensation for male respondents was $92,920, while it was only $78,840 for women in the cohort. The survey found that men and women generally start off with equitable compensation, but the gap grows – as it does in many other fields – as they move up into more senior roles.

Millennials expressing a high degree of career satisfaction:

  • On the job satisfaction front, there were some absolutely massive numbers that speak to the way the field is becoming more flexible and dynamic: 85% of millennials surveyed said that they were likely to be still working in Supply Chain in 5 years. 81% said they felt as if they could make a difference in the Supply Chain field. 85% said they agreed that the field was a diverse workforce, and 87% said that they thought working in the field would help with personal growth and development.

It’s exciting to see the way the field is growing and adapting to change, and the way that millennials are stepping up and reaping some of this career’s rewards. We encourage you to check out the full report. there’s a lot to dig into beyond the takeaways we’ve identified here – lots of insights that will be interesting to anyone who’s interested in the way Supply Chain careers are taking off in the 21st century. 



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