Watch: Can Colleges Help Close the Supply Chain Talent Gap?

Michelle Carroll, Supply Chain Management Department chair at Fayetteville (North Carolina) Technical Community College, talks about the importance of preparing students for a career in supply chain.

Awareness of the importance of expertise in supply chain management “is very important for our community right now,” says Carroll. Thanks to shortages of product caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, public understanding of supply chains is currently high, but there’s still a need for a concerted effort at including the topic in college and even high school curriculums.

FTCC’s own supply chain program is three years old, launched shortly before the pandemic. It offers courses in three educational tracks: global logistics technology, distribution management and trucking operations management. Topics include purchasing logistics, distribution management, importing and exporting, and international business. The last, says Carroll, recognizes that “we’re a global society right now.”

Student interest in supply chain management has increased since the pandemic, but a large portion of those interested in the topic come from the military, especially nearby Fort Bragg. (Carroll herself spent 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, before entering the private sector and becoming a college instructor.) Those individuals seek to update their skill sets and move from entry-level jobs to middle management, she says.

Interest in supply chain is also growing in local high schools. FTCC recruiters go into the high schools to talk about career opportunities, as well as invite students to visit the college campus. Local logistics businesses also participate in piquing the interest of high schoolers in supply chain careers.

In addition, FTCC holds a career fair several times a year, and has a connection program whereby high schoolers can simultaneously get high school and college credit for taking courses in supply chain.

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