Supplying the supply chain sector
When students score low on professional preparedness, initiatives that provide real-world experience may be the key to bridging the gap between business and academia.
Positioned in the centre of Europe with expanding warehouse space and competitive offers, Poland is becoming a leader in the logistics sector. But how can the supply chain industry ensure it has a trained, innovative workforce that’s ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow?
PSML (Polish supply Management Leaders), a non-profit organisation, aims to prepare the next generation of industry professionals through its programmes for students and young talent. PSML represents the interests of Polish supply chain, logistics and procurement managers, with a mission to build a centre of competence in Poland in the area of supply chain in the European market.
More recently, the organisation introduced two initiatives: CloudNine and Top Young 100, which are dedicated to providing a fresh set of supply chain specialists. Creating a dynamic link between business and academia is one step toward building stronger practical learning and development models, according to Mariusz Gerałtowski, President of the Board of PSML, and the first opportunity for collaboration is the university thesis.
According to a 2019 survey by PSML, almost 400k graduates annually spend collectively approximately 100m hours working on their theses, of which 80% have no practical use. Instead, students are advised to choose practical issues which can benefit businesses. A talented student can provide a different perspective and interesting ideas which have not yet been explored internally.
With the CloudNine programme, participating businesses submit potential topics and students from nearly 40 universities across Poland will have the opportunity to write a winning thesis based on these topics. A committee chooses finalists who then have to defend their thesis during Industry Week at the Ptak Warsaw Expo and the audience picks the winners.
“The dynamic technological progress will require new skills from businesses and employees, but we do not know what those requirements will be. Therefore, when business takes on an active role in the education process, we will help utilise the time that the student spends in university,” said Gerałtowski.
Similarly, Project Top Young 100 connects students in supply chain management and aims to support young professionals as they enter the market to promote Poland’s image as a strong player in European logistics. Teodor Kula, Board Member of PSML, said carefully selected students are enrolled in a comprehensive programme which provides highly valuable exposure to authentic challenges from within the profession.
“These people are able to build and maintain a passion for the profession, as well as develop confidence in their own potential as they begin to look beyond their studies,” said Kula. He added that adapting to the world of work can be challenging at first and that there’s a large gap between what formal education can offer students versus what is required by businesses.
“We would also like to encourage young people to build their careers in the Polish market by showing them its strength and assure them that they can indeed thrive and prosper in this country, a country which has many logistics opportunities and advantages,” added Kula.
For one year, top students participate in workshops to solve real challenges, conduct market research, design supply chain processes, develop analytical tools and propose new concepts for development. Students work on projects from conception to delivery and attend training seminars about professional know-how, soft skills and other competencies under the guidance of experienced managers.
The programme evolves with market trends and creates new challenges to provide incoming students with a wide range of opportunities to expand their knowledge and test their skills. Top Young 100 is a win-win for both students and the industry, as Kula explained: “Being able to sample a range of experiences will empower the students to gain a more intimate understanding of their ideal future pathway within the sector. Our partner businesses gain access to the best young talents and this is a clear benefit.”
As a result of participating in the CloudNine programme, Kula added, “The companies will increase their competitiveness in the supply chain industry on the european or even global scale.”