- Retailers and supply chain organizations are working on building supply chain careers alongside hiring sprees, according to series of announcements made in September.
- Target said Thursday it would offer its "debt-free education assistance program" to the 30,000 supply chain workers it plans to hire. And on Monday, the National Retail Federation Foundation and Association for Supply Chain Management Foundation announced they had created a new Warehouse, Inventory and Logistics certificate for entry level retail associates and students.
- Earlier in September, Walmart announced it was hiring 20,000 more supply chain workers. The retailer also said it was opening six new "Walmart Academies," which are training facilities specifically designed to upskill supply chain workers. The first such facility opened in 2019.
Labor shortages have become a major problem for handling e-commerce volumes at distribution centers, whether it's at the retailer's facility or passed on to a 3PL's center.
FedEx, for example, is having to reroute more than 600,000 packages a day in its Ground network due to staffing shortages. At its hub in Portland, Oregon, the company has just 65% of the workers it needs to handle normal volumes.
Amid a competitive labor market, more employers in the U.S. say they prefer to reskill rather than hire new employees. "Three-in-five hiring decision-makers (60%) say their companies plan to reskill employees by the end of 2021 with larger companies the most likely to offer reskilling opportunities," according to Sept. 8 survey results from The Harris Poll for Express Employment Professionals.
Walmart said it trained roughly 5,900 employees through its supply chain academy during its last fiscal year.
Target plans to "send more inventory to stores and guests than ever before," a spokesperson said in an email. The spokesperson added the company saw a 55% growth in same-day services during Q2 of 2021, and to meet that demand, "we're adding more team member roles across our supply chain network."
The 30,000 supply chain workers Target has started to hire are joining on a non-seasonal basis. They include hiring managers as well as warehouse and operational support staff. The hiring goal is in addition to the 100,000 workers Target plans to hire this holiday season on a seasonal basis, according to the spokesperson.
Overall, the number of warehouse and distribution center jobs has grown by 56% in the last 5 years, according to the NRF and ASCM press release. But retailers are still looking to fill more than 400,000 warehousing-related jobs in 2021, and they are pursuing various strategies to make the jobs attractive.
Warehouse employment levels have surpassed pre-pandemic levels
Walmart and Target have programs that offer to help workers pay for college expenses at select U.S. higher education institutions.
"Our education offerings tie directly to our growth areas at Walmart," Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart, said in a press release announcing an expanded education program. "And what better way to fill the pipeline of future talent than with our own associates."
The NRF and ASCM certificate also aims to build a pipeline of supply chain talent, as companies recognize the importance of supply chain as a competitive factor. The credential helps employees learn skills such as warehouse design and operation, a critical skill as e-commerce continues its growth path.
Clarification: This story was updated to include details about the Warehouse, Inventory and Logistics certificate and clarify that the program is part of ASCM Foundation.