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Supply Chain Careers Offer Opportunity In a Time of Economic Downturn

Though unemployment rates have remained high throughout the pandemic, the need for supply chain workers has grown.

COVID-19 has put the global supply chain in the spotlight as never before in recent memory, and with it a closer look at an already understaffed industry whose need for professionals is only growing as the pandemic continues.

The global supply chain refers to normally invisible process by which goods and products make their way from the manufacturer to distributor to consumer. COVID-19 disrupted this flow as consumer-facing businesses and manufacturing plants alike responded to social distancing mandates and drastically shifting consumer demand. Prior to COVID-19, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that demand for supply chain professionals exceeded supply by a ratio of six to one. As the workforce is reshaped by this pandemic, the need for supply chain professionals will only continue to grow.

“The role of the supply chain professional has evolved into a strategic imperative essential for every aspect of a company’s operations to provide the goods and services needed for the economy to thrive,” said Association of Supply Chain Management (ASCM) CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE. “While supply chain professionals have always known their work was contributing to something bigger than themselves, consumers are now more keenly aware of the direct impact supply chain has on their daily lives.”

In a time of such widespread economic downturn, supply chain management as an industry’s desperate need for additional workers could turn out to be an unexpected opportunity. Indeed, ASCM’s recently completed career survey report revealed high levels of employee satisfaction, as well as competitive salaries and benefits.

The report indicated that 88 percent of supply chain workers have a positive outlook on their careers and 85 percent would recommend working in the field to others. What’s more, the survey indicated a median salary of $78,750 per year among workers with a bachelor’s degree, which is 24 percent higher than the national median salary. A large majority of respondents, over 90 percent, reported receiving additional compensation like raises, bonuses, and profit-sharing, while 79 percent reported feeling satisfied by the benefits offered.

Millions of Americans were laid off in 2020, and unemployment claims have remained high since March. In the week ending December 5 alone, over 800,000 people filed for unemployment. But while the pandemic has decimated industries across the country, supply chain workers have become essential to the nation’s survival and, unlike other business sectors, have been hiring more workers to keep up with demand.

As essential workers, supply chain professionals have taken on increased risk during the pandemic. However, as the rollout of new vaccines for the coronavirus continues, risk to essential workers may be lessened, even as our new way of life keeps demand for these professionals high. In this way, supply chain careers could represent a life-changing opportunity to those affected by the pandemic recession, as well as an opportunity to keep the country at large safe.

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