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New report goes inside the minds of young supply chain professionals

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YPs give high marks to their jobs, their employers, and the profession as a whole, but they're always on the lookout for career development and advancement opportunities, a survey of nearly 300 young CSCMP members finds.

What do young professionals (YPs) think about working in the supply chain field? Why are they attracted to the business, and what are they looking for in a career? These are the questions leaders at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and third-party logistics provider (3PL) Penske Logistics set out to answer this past summer when they surveyed nearly 300 CSCMP members who are under the age of 30. The short answer to both questions, according to the survey results and a follow-up panel discussion at the 2017 CSCMP EDGE Conference, is opportunity—the opportunity to do interesting work in a variety of settings and for career development and advancement.

The typical YP responding to the survey has been in the industry for about three years, has or is pursuing a bachelor's degree, and works for a 3PL, manufacturing, or transportation and warehousing company. The top reasons why young professionals are attracted to the field include: the variety of opportunities and job types that the profession offers (20 percent); firsthand exposure through internships, jobs, and courses (19 percent); and a passion or excitement for the supply chain (17 percent). (See sidebar at right.)

Regardless of what attracted them to the profession, the young professionals surveyed enjoy working in the supply chain. Eighty-one percent strongly agreed that supply chain management is a good career choice, and no one who was surveyed disagreed.

Despite the high satisfaction levels reported, young supply chain professionals are always on the lookout for the next great job opportunity. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of respondents said they could be lured away from their current job by the promise of new development opportunities, and 27 percent said they would be willing to change companies for an increase in salary or benefits.

And they aren't afraid to relocate for the right opportunity. Adri McCaskill, general manager for the technology consulting company iPlan Global and the chair of CSCMP's YP Committee, said one big surprise from the report was that the vast majority of respondents said they are very willing (49 percent) or somewhat willing (39 percent) to relocate for a new job.

This willingness to move on to the next big thing is considered by many to be a positive trait. During the panel discussion, Dan Gagnon, vice president of marketing, global logistics and distribution, for UPS Supply Chain Solutions, urged young professionals to "always be constructively dissatisfied." Gagnon, who started his own career after college as a UPS driver, also encouraged them to expand their skills to areas where there are a shortage of qualified workers.

Gagnon need not worry. The survey shows that YPs are eager to continue their education on the job, according to McCaskill—but, perhaps surprisingly, they want to do it the old-fashioned way. The majority of respondents said they prefer in-person training, delivered through mentoring or task-based activities that can be completed at their own pace, rather than through online media.

To read the full report, including more on what YPs say about their jobs, their education, and their ambitions for the future, click here.

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