A Content Plan to Boost Employment

For ASCM, a creative pivot meant new partnerships that not only fill the talent gap but also get people back to work.

By the FORUM Magazine editors

FRM NovDec Pulse Teaching

As Abe Eshkenazi, CEO, Association for Supply Chain Management, surveyed the employment landscape early on in the pandemic, there was a problem as plain as day. “We have record-high unemployment yet millions of jobs that need filling in supply chain,” he says.

The coronavirus disrupted — and continues to disrupt — all sorts of industries disproportionately. Certain areas, such as retail and restaurants, saw heavy job losses. His chief concern: How do you get people back on the job? How do you get people to see that there are other career opportunities?

To answer those questions, ASCM leaned on its core strength: education. The association’s primary focus has always been to educate and train supply chain professionals of all levels. For ASCM, working to overcome the burdens of the pandemic meant expanding the reach of their current educational offerings.

“The pandemic has opened people’s eyes to supply chain issues,” Eshkenazi says, pointing to challenges such as the inability to get toilet paper earlier this year. “It also opened people up to the gamut of career possibilities that exist within the supply chain. The need for supply chain professionals is very acute right now.”

In particular, when Eshkenazi and his team saw the impact of what was happening in the retail sector, he reached out to the National Retail Federation and pitched an opportunity to work together. The NRF has a program, RISE Up, that helps member companies and employees develop capabilities and knowledge. But they lacked content for supply chain professionals. So ASCM identified existing content that was necessary to build supply chain skills and embedded that into NRF’s existing RISE Up program, with the new materials going live in October.

“The question was, what relevant content could people use to get back on the job?” Eshkenazi says. “We wanted people to see that there are opportunities for them. Perhaps not in the traditional career path that they had designed. But more importantly, we wanted them to feel good about themselves and that they were contributing.”

For Eshkenazi, it was important to simply extend the association’s output by passing on content through other organizations, including with others beyond NRF. “We’re not expecting a whole host of these individuals to join our association as supply chain professionals. While some people might choose it as a career opportunity, that’s not the original intent. The original intent was to solve a problem for people who don’t have a job.”

What really distinguishes the association industry, Eshkenazi says, is this ability to work together to solve a common problem for members and member organizations.

“I can’t think of a better use of our resources and our staff than to help out other organizations. This is why we’re in business.”

Written by FORUM Magazine editors.

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