AUSTRALIA’s supply chain industry must close its gender gap and attract fresh talent if it wants to meet an increasingly automated future.
That was the message of a new program from Deakin University, announced at a lunch in Geelong on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Wayfinder: Supply Chain Careers for Women is an initiative of Deakin’s Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics, and is bankrolled by 13 sponsors, made up of some of logistics businesses.
The Wayfinder initiative was launched by Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO.
Professor den Hollander opened the session for noting the contribution of such prominent women as Australian of the Years Professor Michelle Simmons and Rose Batty.
Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics director Dr Hermione Parsons said the lunches were designed to link demand for talented female workers with women and girls across the community.
“These events form an important part of a three-year project to bring new talent into the supply chain industry,” Dr Parsons said.
“This will be supported by a program of research, new resources to help people better understand the industry and its career opportunities, plus the establishment of Deakin graduate pathways to meet the demand for talented workers.”
Dr Parsons said the supply chain industry was experiencing a period of rapid change, with huge technological advances.
“Ultimately supply chain has an image problem,” she said.
“We must change how the community sees supply chain and understands its enormous significance to the national economy if we’re going to turnaround a rapidly ageing and male-dominated workforce.”
Dr Parsons said it was hard when most people failed to understand what a ‘supply chain’ actually was, despite more than one million jobs in Australia being tied to supply chain-related activities.
Qube general manager of health safety and environment Belinda Flynn has been a keen driver behind the Wayfinder concept.
Ms Flynn said many people outside the industry thought jobs in supply chain were all about driving trucks or moving containers on a wharf, but that was “a misconception”.
“The industry needs a different capability within their talent pool. We’re seeing the need to recruit for different types of jobs such as automation or robotics technicians, as well as innovation and IT specialists,” she said.
“This presents a golden opportunity for women to enter new career paths in supply chain today, and for young girls to choose courses now to get the best supply chain jobs of tomorrow.”