Top supply chain grad programs shine spotlight on technology
- The quantity of one-year and part-time Masters of Science in Supply Chain Management (MSSCM) programs in the U.S. has increased by two-thirds since 2016, according to Gartner's biannual Rankings of the 2018 Top 25 North American Supply Chain University Graduate Programs.
- The report predicts the supply chain managers of the near future will be more diverse than the current crop, since 37% of graduates in the programs surveyed are women and 48% are ethnic minorities. The supply chain management student body is also one-third international, leading to concern that "companies and sectors will struggle with their candidates’ visa status or be prohibited from hiring them."
- The average salary of an MBA grad with a supply chain concentration increased 6.4% to $88,935 since 2016, while the average salary of an MSSCM grad increased by 4.8% to $83,066.
With the rate of unemployment in the U.S. currently at 3.9%, the labor market is tight all over, but a dearth of new talent has been worrying supply chain industries and heavily supply chain-dependent companies for years. Target, J.B. Hunt and Toyota have all made investments in encouraging and improving supply chain management education programs in the last two years. Based on Gartner's research, universities are starting to respond to the concern.
What's new to the players on Gartner's ranking since the last survey in 2016 is a focus on technology — 79% of MBA and 83% of MSSCM programs teach specific digital tools, as well as the role of technology in general. Gartner said that less than half of MBA programs and two-thirds of MSSCM programs made similar efforts in 2016.
Report author Dana Stiffler told Supply Chain Dive the increased emphasis on technology in graduate supply chain education may be attributable in part to a change in Gartner's survey questions from 2016, but the growing role of technology is still a palpable trend. The driving force behind it, says Stiffler, is large companies that want state-of-the-art supply chain initiatives that may be beyond the technical competency of their current workforce.
"If you think about the leading supply chain organizations and the large product-centric companies in the world and how they run their global supply chains, they can’t do that without technology, and they can’t innovate without good leverage of technology. So part of it is that these leading companies are pushing that agenda," said Stiffler.
Stiffler said the most common software emphasized are Microsoft Excel and SAP, but Tableau is on the rise as well. For some grads though, the increased emphasis on technology presents a unique conundrum when they enter the workforce.
"It's interesting when you think about the programs that are exposing students to more advanced tools and techniques because there is a chance that they’ll get to their employer and be disappointed," said Stiffler. Two-thirds of companies consider Excel a supply chain system and though this may be a frustration for tech-savvy new arrivals to the workforce, it can also offer opportunities.
"There are interesting opportunities for millennials and for Gen-X, because they are going to be coming into these organizations as leaders," said Stiffler.
From 46 universities in the U.S. and Canada that responded to Gartner's survey, the firm ranked the top 25 based on curricula, experiential content and public reputations of accredited, campus-based and hybrid supply chain programs.
Topping the list were the usual suspects, with Pennsylvania State University, University of Michigan, University of Tennessee, Michigan State University and Rutgers University filling out the top five slots.
Newcomers to the list are the University of Minnesota, Wayne State University, the University of Southern California and the University of Washington.
Northeastern University in Boston gained the most ground from 2016, moving up 11 spots to rank 13.
Follow Emma Cosgrove on Twitter