State of the Industry

The technologies used to support the nation’s supply chain are becoming more advanced every day. These new technologies are being implemented to increase production, improve accuracy, and to meet the needs of the e-commerce revolution. The days of shipping full pallets of product to retail outlets are being replaced with single items shipped directly to the customer’s door. This business model is creating new challenges for companies. High-tech inventory control systems and material handling equipment are needed, and companies must commit to streamlining production timelines and operations in order to compete. In the future, robotics / AI, augmented reality, and blockchain technologies will create even broader shifts in the supply chain landscape.

As companies consider adoption of new technologies, they are challenged to find qualified workers who are prepared to operate and maintain them. The 2019 MHI Annual Industry Report found that 65% of companies rate hiring qualified supply chain workers as extremely or very challenging. This workforce shortage makes it critical to attract individuals who are STEM-prepared and have an interest in using technology. Additionally, according to Gartner, “one of the most important skills of the future supply chain workforce will be digital dexterity,” – the ability to quickly embrace and integrate new technologies into business practices.

Industry data from EMSI shows that between 2015 and 2025 there will be almost 770,000 job openings for Supply Chain Technicians in the U.S. A Supply Chain Technician is a person who installs, operates, supports, upgrades or maintains the automated material handling equipment and systems that support the supply chain. This type of equipment is found in facilities operated by (CAT, Amazon, FedEx Ground, UPS, Target, Walmart and many other large – as well as mid-sized – corporations. In fact, an Information Services Group report estimated that by 2019, 72% of companies will use some type of robotics process automation (RPA) to automate business, manufacturing, or logistics functions.

As of 2018, the median wage for these supply chain automation technicians averaged $24.93 per hour nationally, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics. Workers who are advanced technicians with years of experience can earn as much as $95,000 annually. The work is highly-skilled, varied, interesting, and in-demand.

The NCSCA is committed to growing the future supply chain workforce by serving in an advisory and resource capacity to educational institutions and industry leaders who are preparing students for jobs as supply chain technicians. We analyze the labor market to determine the skills requirements necessary in this field, and have compiled state labor market data profiles for use by both industry leaders and educators. We also provide occupational information to students, parents, and veterans who are interested in learning more about the opportunities available in the materials handling, supply chain management, and logistics industries.

For more information about labor market and economic trends that are impacting supply chain automation careers, contact us.

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