Time for change

Education and supply chain management

The world has changed but our educational systems lag behind. How do we prepare next generations and our supply chains to succeed in the future?

Technology is advancing at an incredible pace. In the past, industrial revolutions – such as hydraulic-supported production or mass production with electrical energy – took a century to develop and change market environments. Nowadays, market-revolutionizing developments can happen in just a few years and it’s hard at times to catch up.

So how do we prepare the next generation to succeed in such a dynamic environment, where technology is advancing faster than educational programs can align? It’s no longer a rarity for students to focus on a certain subject matter and by the time they graduate, it is no longer up to date or useful in the market. It’s a great challenge today for young people to decide what to study to have a bright future ahead.

I’ve come across a very interesting article recently on the future of learning on the SingularityHUB, an online platform by the US-based Singularity University. The publication is titled “Automation Is Eating Jobs, But These Skills Will Always Be Valued In the Workplace” and explains how today’s educational systems are no longer equipped to prepare students for the fast-evolving world we live in today.

It also cites two examples of educational institutions in Finland and Brazil that have embraced change. These countries are now working on adapting their programs to better prepare students for a rapidly changing world.

What we need to succeed in the future

I found the Finland example especially fascinating: it’s reported they shifted the national curriculum to a new model known as “phenomenon-based” approach. By 2020, Finland plans to replace traditional classroom subjects with a topical approach highlighting the four Cs.

Do you know what the four Cs are? I did not. It means: communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. In addition to this, a new, required mindset focus has crystalized, involving resiliency, grit, and continuous learning.

The chief aim behind this change is to teach students to become problem-solvers, inventive thinkers, and develop adaptive capabilities to be able to change with the world around them. Having kids myself, I truly hope that Sweden and other countries will follow suit and adapt their educational systems, too, in order to point the next generation in the right direction.

How does this transfer to supply chain management?

When I read about those four Cs, the new mindset, and the ultimate aim behind the shift in education, I actually immediately thought of supply chain management (SCM) on a global level, and how these new focus areas very much apply here, too.

Interestingly, our recent research study Global Trade Management Agenda 2016 also lists “employee recruitment, training, and continuing education” in place 4 of companies’ overall global trade priorities in 2016. So, this further underlines that more – or different? – education is needed in global trade and supply chain management to keep a competitive edge and to grow the business.

And further looking at those four Cs from Finland, it’s especially the parts “communication” and “collaboration” that increasingly become critical factors for success not just for students, but also in global SCM. Our recent study had a special focus area on collaboration and its relevance in global trade and supply chain management in light of its importance.

Two factors that make or break a supply chain

Supply chains are becoming evermore complex and global, customer expectations are continuously increasing, and companies not able to handle, for example, multi-channel orders and e-commerce challenges quickly find themselves out of the race.

If the communication between all the many partners of a supply chain – including manufacturers, suppliers, carriers, service providers, customs authorities, and customers – is not seamless and the collaboration between all of them is not smooth, then the required service cannot be delivered.

Today, such communication and collaboration very much depends on technology, and luckily, powerful solutions are available to support businesses and their supply chains. 

Take a look at what our Monitoring and Alerting solution can do, for example.

What is the status of collaboration with supply chain partners in your organization? And how do you feel about training and continued education to prepare us for future success? We will continue to monitor developments in both areas – the educational sector and supply chain management – so, watch this space. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on LinkedIn.

PS: Of course, we do more than “monitoring” 😉 – we also actively engage, both in working with universities in our AEB markets to support education and awareness in global trade and logistics and in developing global trade and supply chain management solutions to digitize and optimize business processes.