The growing scale and scope of the supply chain: a reflection on supply chain graduate skills

Christine Jordan, Ozlem Bak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The growing scale and scope of the supply chain requires a greater understanding of the broader supply chain skills picture. This study aims to assess the supply chain skills needs within the context of a UK-based higher education institution involving graduates, academics and employers to appreciate the graduate skills demands of modern supply chains. Design/methodology/approach: A mixed methods study entailing in-depth interviews with academics followed by a questionnaire distributed to graduates and employers has been designed and utilised. Findings: The findings indicate that the changing supply chain scope encourages the requisition and development of different supply chain skills with varied levels of emphases in relation to 25 skills identified in the literature. Key graduate skills needs are highlighted, including time management, collaborative learning, teamwork and problem solving, with the addition of two supply chain skill areas, namely specialist training and the understanding and application of regulations. The findings of the current study present a limited emphasis on information technology (IT) skills, despite the significant IT advancements and changes in supply chains. Research limitations/implications: The study has been carried out in a UK university delivering undergraduate supply chain management courses. It would be beneficial to test whether the findings are exemplary across other supply chain courses and to investigate the integration of these skills within the supply chain syllabus and how employers, graduates and academic parties could actively engage in developing the agenda for future supply chain skills needs. Practical implications: This research paper highlights the gaps in supply chain skills, which inevitably puts considerable pressure on operatives and managers whose responsibility it is to ensure compliance with regulations and professional bodies. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the supply chain skills discussion and reports subject relevant challenges for supply chain educators by engaging three key stakeholders – graduate employers, graduates and academics. The findings have generated additional supply chain skills to the academic literature, in addition to providing an understanding of the weighting of skills in terms of their importance and application to industry needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-626
Number of pages17
JournalSupply Chain Management
Issue number5
Early online date8 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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