Article

READY FOR THE FUTURE: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY ON COMPETENCY REQUIREMENTS FOR BACHELOR GRADUATES IN LOGISTICS

Abstract and Figures

Purpose-In this paper, we examine the competency requirements of bachelor graduates in logistics based on current and expected trends and developments in logistics. The obtained insights can be used to develop logistics educational programs and curricula accordingly. Design/methodology/approach-First, current and expected trends and developments in the field of logistics are identified. A literature review is conducted to list proposed competencies for logisticians. In addition, 18 in-depth interviews are conducted with senior logistics professionals and academics to examine the competency requirements of logistics graduates in the near future, given the developments in the area of logistics. Findings-We describe how technological-, social-and business trends and developments are affecting the context and content of jobs in logistics. We discuss how, as a result, the competencies required of logistics graduates change. Competencies are distinguished in knowledge, skills and attitude. In addition to having general business knowledge and fundamental knowledge about logistics (e.g., warehouse or inventory management), having knowledge about data science will become more relevant. Software and IT skills but also collaboration, problem solving and innovation skills will become more important the coming years. Also, attitude characteristics such as proactivity, flexibility and curiosity will become more relevant. Originality/value-Existing literature has focused on identifying possible relevant competencies in the field of logistics and supply chain management. This study focuses particularly on competency requirements in the near future, given the trends and developments in logistics. The findings of this study can be used to inform development of logistics educational programs and curricula.
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Ready for the future: an exploratory study
Ready for the future: an
exploratory study on
competency requirements for
bachelor graduates in logistics
Nienke Hofstra Research Group Logistics & Alliances, HAN University of Applied Sciences
Yiqi Wang Research Group Logistics & Alliances, HAN University of Applied Sciences
Jan Jansen Research Group Logistics & Alliances, HAN University of Applied Sciences
Dennis Moeke Research Group Logistics & Alliances, HAN University of Applied Sciences
ABSTRACT
Purpose – In this paper, we examine the competency requirements of
bachelor graduates in logistics based on current and expected trends and
developments in logistics. The obtained insights can be used to develop
logistics educational programs and curricula accordingly.
Design/methodology/approach – First, current and expected trends
and developments in the eld of logistics are identied. A literature review
is conducted to list proposed competencies for logisticians. In addition,
18 in-depth interviews are conducted with senior logistics professionals
and academics to examine the competency requirements of logistics
graduates in the near future, given the developments in the area of
logistics.
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Tijdschrift voor toegepaste logistiek 2020 nr. 9
Findings – We describe how technological-, social- and business trends
and developments are aecting the context and content of jobs in
logistics. We discuss how, as a result, the competencies required of
logistics graduates change. Competencies are distinguished in knowledge,
skills and attitude. In addition to having general business knowledge and
fundamental knowledge about logistics (e.g., warehouse or inventory
management), having knowledge about data science will become more
relevant. Software and IT skills but also collaboration, problem solving
and innovation skills will become more important the coming years. Also,
attitude characteristics such as proactivity, exibility and curiosity will
become more relevant.
Originality/value – Existing literature has focused on identifying possible
relevant competencies in the eld of logistics and supplychain
management. This study focuses particularly on competency requirements
in the near future, given the trends and developments in logistics. The
ndings of this study can be used to inform development of logistics
educational programs and curricula.
Notes and Acknowledgements
The European Forum of Logistics Education is a network consisting of 31 higher education
institutes across Europe. Their goal is to share knowledge and information on logistics
education and stimulate internationalisation of education in Europe. The interested reader
is referred to https://ee.eu for more information.
In several annual meetings of the European Forum of Logistics Education (EFLE) from 2013
- 2019 (Jena, Emmen, Madrid, Hasselt, Vesoul, Rotterdam and Copenhagen) the future
content of logistics education at bachelor level in Europe, especially what competencies
(Knowledge, Skills and Attitude) will be needed in the nearby future (5 – 10 years), has been
discussed. This has led to a research project which the current study is part of.
We thank Professor Emeritus Stef Weijers (Research Group Logistics & Alliances, HAN
University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands) for starting this discussion back in EFLE
42
Ready for the future: an exploratory study
2006 (Hudderseld) and also Daniela Tanhua (Faculty of Logistics and Maritime Technology,
SAMK University of Applied Sciences, Finland) and Karen van Bastelaere (Department of
Business Management, HoGent, Belgium) for their suggestions for this research.
Introduction
The competition in the eld of Logistics and Supply Chain Management (SCM) is erce
(Thai, 2012). Companies experience continuous and increasingly rapid developments
in their business environments. To prosper in such environments, companies require
employees who have up-to-date knowledge and skills (Thai, 2012). In fact, success
increasingly depends on rms’ ability to bring in, develop and keep employees with the
appropriate competencies to stand out in the future (Carter & Carter, 2007). In order to
adequately prepare logistics bachelor students for the rapidly changing and evolving
working environments, curricula of educational programs in Logistics and SCM should be
updated on a regular basis.
In this study, we examine developments in the eld of Logistics and SCM and analyse the
competency requirements of bachelor graduates in logistics now and in the near future. For
the purpose of this study, competency refers to one’s ability to combine knowledge, skills and
attitude to show expected behaviour when performing a professional task. This denition is
used by the educational programs in Logistics and SCM of the Dutch Universities of Applied
Sciences and is in line with the denition proposed by the Council of the European Union
(see Council of the European Union (2018)).
Traditionally, individual competencies are a topic of interest in the eld of Human Resource
Management (HRM). With the increasing strategic relevance of having the right employees
with the right competencies, in recent years competencies have received increasing
attention in Logistics and SCM research (Hohenstein et al., 2014). Prior studies examined
competency requirements for various roles in Logistics and SCM for management level as
well as operational level, such as the skills that are required of senior managers in logistics
(Murphy & Poist, 2007), supplychain managers (Derwik et al., 2016; Ellinger & Ellinger,
2014; Flöthmann, Hoberg, & Gammelgaard, 2018; Prajogo & Sohal, 2013), procurement
professionals (Giunipero & Pearcy, 2000; Karttunen, 2018; Mulder et al., 2005), supplychain
planners and analysts (Flöthmann, Hoberg, & Wieland, 2018), fashion supplychain manager
(van der Veen et al., n.d.), and humanitarian logisticians (Bölsche et al., 2013; Kovács et al.,
2012). Some studies have focussed particularly on requirements of entry-level logisticians.
For instance, Gibson and Cook (2003) conducted surveys among US undergraduate
students and employers to examine their preferences regarding logistics positions.
Murphy and Poist (2006) conducted a survey among US search rms that recruit Logistics
managers to compare the skills required at senior- and entry-level. Other studies have
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Tijdschrift voor toegepaste logistiek 2020 nr. 9
focussed on assessing educational programs in Logistics and SCM. For instance, researchers
have examined the evolvement of educational programs in Logistics and SCM (Gravier &
Theodore Farris, 2008; Onar et al., 2013) or studied how such programs compare to the needs
of companies in the industry in, for instance, the US (Lutz & Birou, 2013) or the UK (Bourlakis
et al., 2013). Gravier and Theodore Farris (2008) discuss macro-environmental factors that
inuence logistics education (i.e., an increase in the number of programs, a limited number
of logistics-trained faculty, changes in content requirements and teaching environment).
Recently, Manders et al. (2020) conducted a literature review complemented with focus
groups and interviews with companies and organisations to examine developments in the
Logistics sector and discuss how these developments impact companies and the required
knowledge and skills of their logistics professionals.
However, to the best of our knowledge, there are no recent and solid studies that provide
insight on competencies that graduates starting as entry-level logisticians should possess.
Therefore, in this study, we focus particularly on competency requirements of bachelor
graduates in logistics (level 6 of the European Qualication Framework). Based on a
literature review, we evaluate trends and developments in Logistics and SCM practice
and develop a framework that describes relevant knowledge, skills and attitude aspects
(KSA’s) for logisticians. This framework is complemented with the empirical ndings from
18 in-depth interviews with senior logistics professionals and senior logistics academics
to examine the relevance of these competencies in the near future, given the trends and
developments in the logistics sector.
In doing so, this study updates the current literature on competency requirements in
Logistics and SCM. Additionally, whereas prior studies have focussed mostly on skill
requirements, we take a broader perspective by examining knowledge, skills and attitude
requirements. Educational and training institutes, amongst which members of the
European Forum of Logistics Education (EFLE), can use these ndings as a benchmark for
their programs and curricula and to improve education in the eld of logistics and SCM.
Furthermore, this exploratory study focuses particularly on developments, and (future)
competency requirements, in Logistics in The Netherlands. As demands in other Logistics
areas may be dierent, a direction for further research is to include other countries/
regions in the study. This study serves as a starting point. A suggestion is to use this study’s
ndings to develop a survey to obtain more representative insight in the importance of
KSA’s, to assess their relative importance and compare ndings across countries or regions.
To this end, the next phase of the broader research project that this study is part of, is to
conduct a pan-European survey amongst a.o. the EFLE members to formulate advice on the
development of logistics bachelor curricula.
44
Ready for the future: an exploratory study
The remainder of this article is organized as follows. In section 2 we present a literature
review in which we assess current developments in the eld of logistics and examine
competency requirements to develop a framework that describes relevant knowledge,
skills and attitude aspects (KSA’s) for logisticians. In section 3 we describe our research
methodology. In section 4 we present the ndings of the study. In section 5 we discuss our
ndings and we end with conclusions in section 6.
Literature review
In this study, we examine current and future competency requirements for bachelor
graduates in logistics. In this section, we conduct a literature review to identify trends and
developments in the eld of Logistics (section 2.1) and to develop a framework that describes
relevant knowledge, skills and attitude aspects (KSA’s) for logisticians (section 2.2).
Trends and developments in logistics
Fuelled by, amongst others, societal challenges, requirements and expectations on the
demand side, technological advancements and developments in the labour market,
the logistics sector faces technological developments as well as social and business
developments. These developments have implications for the knowledge and skills that
companies require from logistics professionals now and in the near future. Therefore, in this
section, we discuss technological and social and business trends and developments that
are expected to change the logistics business environment in the short- to mid-term.
Climate change is a global societal challenge which makes the transition to a sustainable
economy inevitable (Wagner et al., 2019). Sustainable development, meaning that current
and future generations have the resources needed, such as food, water, health care, and
energy, without stressing processes within the Earth system (Schoenmaker & Schramade,
2018, p. 33), is highly important. Sustainability concerns signicantly impact the logistics
sector (Kersten et al., 2017). Emissions of greenhouse gasses have to be reduced signicantly.
In broad terms, this means that supplychains have to be redesigned (Topteam Logistiek,
2019). Logistics companies are faced with the assignment to develop and implement
new technologies and logistics concepts to become more sustainable. Reducing adverse
eects of key activities such as transportation and warehousing asks for innovations such
as the usage of cleaner fuels, green energy logistics, electrication and the optimisation
of logistics ows, innovations in smart facility management and the usage of renewable
energy sources (Chung et al., 2018; Topteam Logistiek, 2019).
Furthermore, the logistics sector is confronted with a shortage of skilled logisticians (Kersten
et al., 2017; Van Amerongen et al., 2019; Wagner et al., 2019). The working population
in the logistics sector is ageing. In the coming years, this will result in an increase in the
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Tijdschrift voor toegepaste logistiek 2020 nr. 9
outow of logistics professionals. At the same time, it is observed that the inow of logistics
professionals is declining, strengthening personnel shortages (Van Amerongen et al., 2019).
In addition, services are given an increasingly important role in the business models of
companies. As a result, strategies shift from a transaction-based focus to a relation-based
focus with personalisation and customisation of oerings (Derwik & Hellström, 2017).
This shift towards servitisation has an impact on the role and requirements of logistics
professionals.
Rapid technological advancements have also a major impact on the logistics business
environment. Digitalisation with signicant progress in, amongst others, computing power
and storage capacity of computers, sensor developments leading to reduced costs, and
more digital connectivity speeds up the adoption of new technologies in logistics (Chung
et al., 2018). Such advancements make it easier to collect and store data. This generates
opportunities for Data Science, extracting knowledge from (typically large) data sets, and
data driven decision-making. Furthermore, the Internet of Things, computing devices that
are interconnected via the internet and exchange data, oers opportunities for, for example,
smart warehousing or real-time visibility of vehicles and products which enables predicted
delivery (Chung et al., 2018). Additionally, a recent development is blockchain technology. A
blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that can record transactions between parties
in a secure and permanent way. Such technology can make it easier to (safely) share data,
facilitating transparency between parties in the supplychain. It will assist the automation
of administrative and commercial processes in logistics and speed up cycle times (Chung
et al., 2018). It is expected that in logistics the application of private blockchains will grow.
Examples are SAP-HANA and IBM Tradelens. Additionally, the development of IT platforms
that share information in the chain through ERP packages that are used in the various links
in the chain is expected to grow.
The use of digital technologies can make supplychains smarter, faster and more agile (Chung
et al., 2018; Wagner et al., 2019). It can reduce transaction costs, making personalisation
easier and the need for economies of scale less important. Shorter response times, a
broader assortment and lower order sizes lead to more volatile supplychains but also brings
about the challenge to remain ecient (Topteam Logistiek, 2019). At the same time, it puts
more emphasis on the coherence between the physical and digital infrastructure (Topteam
Logistiek, 2019).
Technological advancements also generate opportunities for automation and robotisation
of highly repetitive, labour- and sometimes physically intensive physical and administrative
processes, particularly in the eld of logistics (Chung et al., 2018; Van Amerongen et al.,
2019). These developments are already adopted in warehouses and port terminals. Robots
are increasingly used for handling activities for storage and transhipment in terminals,
46
Ready for the future: an exploratory study
warehouses and cross docks. Think, for instance about Automated Guided Vehicles and
picking robots. Developments in robotisation accelerate as they become more aordable.
In order picking, the current payback time of a robot is estimated to be about 3 years
(Topteam Logistiek, 2019). Warehouses can be fully automated within a few years. A
related development is Articial Intelligence, i.e., the development of computer systems
such that they are able to perform tasks requiring human intelligence. It can especially be
used for taking over repetitive work. An example is back-oce automation of checking
invoices (Tradecloud). Developments in automation and robotisation are stimulated by the
increasing labour shortages in logistics and an ageing working population in combination
with the growth in e-commerce which increases demand for rapid order processing and
delivery (Chung et al., 2018).
Competency requirements
Dening competency
In recent years, in line with the increasing strategic relevance of having the right employees
with the right competencies, individual competency has received increasing attention in
Logistics and SCM research (Hohenstein et al., 2014). In this literature, a clear denition
of competency is lacking and the term has been used inconsistently (Kotzab et al., 2018).
Researchers refer to skills, knowledge and competencies to be used in a specic context
somewhat interchangeably and use dierent categorisations to group these dierent
aspects. In this regard, the eld of educational research may prove informative. There,
competency is typically dened as "consisting of integrated pieces of knowledge, skills
and attitudes", and it is assumed to be essential for appropriate functioning on the job
(Baartman & De Bruijn, 2011, p. 126). For the purpose of this study, similar to educational
programs in Logistics and SCM of the Dutch Applied Universities we dene competency
as one’s ability to combine knowledge, skills and attitude [KSAs] to show expected behaviour
when performing a professional task (Council of the European Union, 2018). In other words,
"competence is not limited to cognitive elements (involving the use of theory, concepts
or tacit knowledge); it also encompasses functional aspects (including technical skills)
as well as interpersonal attributes (e.g. social or organisational skills) and ethical values"
(Cedefop, 2014, p. 21). This view is in line with Male et al. (2011), who refer to competences
as the manifestation of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Knowledge, skills and attitudes are
dened as follows:
"knowledge is composed of the facts and gures, concepts, ideas and theories which
are already established and support the understanding of a certain area or subject;
skills are dened as the ability and capacity to carry out processes and use the existing
knowledge to achieve results;
attitudes describe the disposition and mind-sets to act or react to ideas, persons or
situations" (Council of the European Union, 2018, p. 7).
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Additionally, we make a distinction between hard skills (functional) and soft skills
(relational). It has been acknowledged that soft skills are becoming increasingly important
in the logistics sector (Bak et al., 2019; Ellinger & Ellinger, 2014). In fact, it has been indicated
that key hiring decisions focus on more soft (interpersonal and relational) skills whereas
hard skills have become a standard requirement (Bak et al., 2019).
The professional- and (educational) training prole Logistics of the Dutch National Logistics
Platform for Universities of Applied Sciences (Landelijk Platform Logistiek (LPL) HBO) is the
basis for the logistics bachelor programs in logistics of the Dutch Universities of Applied
Sciences (de Vries et al., 2019). It describes the professional prole of logisticians based on the
professional practice (the working environment) of logisticians and it formulates the logistics
key competency as the professional development, management and execution of processes.
Towards a framework of logistics competency
By means of a reviewing studies (i.e., articles published since 2006) on current and future
competency requirements of logisticians we aim to develop a preliminary framework of
relevant KSA’s for logisticians. The literature on competency requirements in Logistics and
SCM is fragmented and diversied (Derwik & Hellström, 2017), but can be distinguished in
works that (mainly) take the perspective of logistics practice, and works that (mainly) take
the perspective of educational programs. Note that the articles used in the literature review
may conceptualize competency dierently and/or use dierent categorisations.
Some studies examine general logistics and SCM competency requirements. For one,
Kotzab et al. (2018) conducted a meta-analysis to examine knowledge, skills and attitudes
that are important in the eld of Logistics and SCM. They nd that the majority of skills
identied in the academic literature represent social skills. However, an analysis of job
postings indicate that they include more cognitive- and meta-level knowledge and skills
than social skills. As another example, Derwik and Hellström (2017) conduct a systematic
literature study to provide an integrated view of research on the topic of SCM competency.
The authors distinguish functional, relational, managerial and behavioral components of
competency that exist at the individual-, intra-organisational-, and inter-organisational
level. Furthermore, Thai (2012) examines the current and future skills and knowledge of
logistics professionals in Australia. He distinguishes business-, logistics- and management
skills and nds that logistics educational programs should focus more on logistics related
skills and knowledge. Jordan and Bak (2016) complement a literature review with in-depth
interviews with academics and a survey among graduates and employers to identify
supplychain skills and attitudes required of higher-educated graduates by companies in
Logistics and SCM. They observe the importance of the ability to comply with regulations,
decision-making skills such as problem solving and planning, and behavioral skills such as
communication and time management. Flöthmann, Hoberg, and Gammelgaard, (2018)
48
Ready for the future: an exploratory study
distinguish (what they refer to as) SCM competencies in individual and organisational
components to examine how they aect SCM performance. The individual components
are distinguished in SCM core skills and knowledge, managerial skills, and IT skills. Using
structural equation modeling they nd that individual components positively aects
companies’ SCM peformance.
Other studies have focussed on competency requirements for specic positions in Logistics
and SCM. For instance, Manders et al. (2020) examined skills that are required of logistics
professionals in general. Murphy and Poist (2007) conducted a longitudinal study to
identify skill requirements of senior logistics managers. Derwik et al. (2016), Ellinger and
Ellinger (2014), Flöthmann, Hoberg, and Gammelgaard (2018), and Prajogo and Sohal
(2013) studied competency requirements of supplychain managers. Van der Veen et al.
(n.d.) study the skill requirements of successful supplychain managers in the fashion
industry. Giunipero et al. (2012), Karttunen (2018) and Mulder et al. (2005) examined skills
required by purchasing professionals. Flöthmann, Hoberg, and Wieland (2018) focussed on
competencies of supplychain planners and analysts and Bölsche et al. (2013) and Kovács et
al. (2012) on knowledge and skills of humanitarian logisticians.
There are some studies that have focussed particularly on requirements of entry-
level logisticians. For instance, Gibson and Cook (2003) conducted surveys among US
undergraduate students and employers to examine their preferences regarding logistics
positions. They identied key skills and experiences entry-level managers should possess.
Communication skills, leadership- and general work experience were considered most
important by employers. Murphy and Poist (2006) conducted a survey among US search
rms that recruit managers in Logistics, Transportation and SCM to compare the skills
required of senior- and entry-level logistics managers. They nd that management skills
are most important at both levels but strong dierences exist regarding the specic
skills required in the area of business, logistics and management. At entry-level personal
characteristics, such as integrity, self-motivation and condence, are considered most
important whereas at senior-level leader-related skills such as the ability to motivate others,
to make decisions, and to persuade are considered more important.
Other researchers have focussed on assessing logistics competency requirements from the
perspective of educational programs in logistics. These studies are mostly US focussed. For
instance, Lutz and Birou (2013) conducted a survey of (primarily US) logistics undergraduate
and graduate courses in higher education to examine how topics taught in these courses
compare to needs of companies in the industry. They nd that the industry prefers students
with a well-balanced skill set and recommend that logistics educational programs focus
more on problem analysis and on people (social) skills. Furthermore, Onar et al. (2013)
compare European master programs in Logistics that are published by the European
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Tijdschrift voor toegepaste logistiek 2020 nr. 9
Logistics Association in 2004 and 2011, to examine trends in graduate SCM programs, to
identify knowledge and skills relevant for SCM education and to propose a framework for
designing such programs. Also, Bourlakis et al. (2013) examine how SCM topics emphasised
by UK universities compare to the topics that UK-based companies emphasize in their
hiring processes. They nd that while research output of UK universities generally matches
industry’s needs, the topics addressed in their logistics postgraduate programs are quite
dierent from industry-hiring needs.
Based on the literature, we develop a framework of competency requirements for
logisticians. Following our denition of competency, we categorise the competency aspects
identied in the reviewed studies under knowledge, skills and attitudes. Table 1 provides an
overview of the KSA’s identied in prior research.
Table 1 Preliminary framework of competency requirements (knowledge, skills, attitudes) for logistics
graduates. Note that there is no interrelation between the rows in the table.
Knowledge about Skills Attitude
Hard skills Soft skills
Basic logistics
(Derwik & He llström,
2017; Jordan & Bak, 2016;
Kart tunen, 2018; Kotzab et
al., 2018; Murphy & Poist,
2006; Thai, 2012)
Computer/software skills
(Derwik & He llström, 2017;
Flöthmann, Hob erg, &
Wieland, 2018; Jordan &
Bak, 2016; Karttunen, 2018;
Kotzab et al., 2018; Murphy &
Poist, 2006; Thai, 2012)
Decision making skills
(Bak et al., 2019; Derwik &
Hellström, 2017; Jordan &
Bak, 2016; Karttunen, 2018;
Murphy & Poist, 2006; Thai,
2012 )
Motivation
(Bak et al., 2019; Jordan &
Bak, 2016; Murphy & Poist,
2006)
Mathematics
(Jordan & Bak , 2016;
Kart tunen, 2018; Kotzab et
al., 2018; Murphy & Poist,
2006; Thai, 2012)
Financial management
(Jordan & Bak , 2016;
Kart tunen, 2018; Kotzab et
al., 2018; Murphy & Poist,
2006; Thai, 2012)
Business communication
(Bak et al., 2019; Jordan &
Bak, 2016; Karttunen, 2018;
Kotzab et al., 2018; Murphy &
Poist, 20 06)
Flexibility
(Bak et al., 2019; Jordan &
Bak, 2016; Karttunen, 2018)
Professional experience
(Derwik & He llström,
2017; Jordan & Bak, 2016;
Kart tunen, 2018; Kotzab et
al., 2018; Thai, 2012)
Foreign language
(Kart tunen, 2018; Kotzab
et al., 2018; Murphy & Poist,
2006; Thai, 2012)
Teamwor k
(Bak et al., 2019; Flöthmann,
Hoberg, & Gammelgaard,
2018; Jordan & Bak, 2016;
Kart tunen, 2018; Kotzab et
al., 2 018)
Adapt to change
(Jordan & Bak , 2016; Kart-
tunen, 2018; Murphy & Poist,
2006)
Logistics related regulations
(Derwik & He llström, 2017;
Kart tunen, 2018; Murphy &
Poist, 2006; Thai, 2012)
Analytical
(Flöthmann, Hob erg, &
Wieland, 2018; Jordan & Bak,
2016; Karttunen, 2018)
Abilit y to plan
(Bak et al., 2019; Jordan &
Bak, 2016; Karttunen, 2018;
Thai, 2012)
Learning to learn
(Kotzab et al. , 2018)
Basic technology
(Derwik & He llström, 2017;
Kart tunen, 2018; Murphy &
Poist, 2006; Thai, 2012)
Cost control
(Karttunen, 2018; Thai, 2012)
Interpersonal relations
(Bak et al., 2019; Flöthmann,
Hoberg, & Wie land, 2018;
Kart tunen, 2018; Murphy &
Poist, 20 06)
Enthusiasm
(Bak et al., 2019)
50
Ready for the future: an exploratory study
Business ethics
(Jordan & Bak , 2016;
Kart tunen, 2018; Murphy &
Poist, 20 06)
Problem solving
(Bak et al., 2019; Flöthmann,
Hoberg, & Wie land,
2018; Jordan & Bak, 2016;
Karttunen, 2018)
Self-condence
(Murphy & Poist, 200 6)
Local and international business
regulations
(Derwik & He llström, 2017;
Murphy & Poist, 2006; Thai,
2012 )
Time management
(Bak et al., 2019; Jordan &
Bak, 2016; Karttunen, 2018)
Sustainable logistics systems
(Karttunen, 2018; Thai, 2012)
Intercultural management
(Kart tunen, 2018; Kotzab et
al., 2018; Thai, 2012)
Reverse logistics
(Karttunen, 2018; Thai, 2012)
Leadership
(Bak et al., 2019; Jordan &
Bak, 2016; Karttunen, 2018)
Impact of globalisation
(Thai, 2012)
Infras tructure p lanning and
management
(Bak et al., 2019; Karttunen,
2018; Thai, 2012)
Modelling of operating systems
(Thai, 2012)
Collaboration
(Bak et al., 2019; Jordan &
Ba k, 2016)
Innovation and entrepreneurship
(Kart tunen, 2018; Kotzab et
al., 2 018)
Stress management
(Bak et al., 2019; Jordan &
Ba k, 2016)
Research methodology
Based on a literature review, we identied trends and developments in the eld of logistics
and developed framework of competency requirements for logisticians. To examine what
knowledge, skills and attitude aspects are relevant for bachelor graduates in logistics to
possess in the near future, given the developments in the eld, we conduct semi-structured
in-depth interviews. We use purposive sampling to select specic people who are
knowledgeable about the research topic (Sekaran & Bougie, 2016). Particularly, judgment
sampling was used because the selected respondents are in the best position to provide the
information and insights required (Verhoeven, 2015). We conducted a total of 18 interviews
with academic lecturers teaching bachelor level Logistics and SCM related courses and
senior professionals working in the eld of Logistics/SCM for more than 10 years. The
academics have experience with student internship supervision, they are knowledgeable
about the bachelor curricula in logistics and work in close collaboration with companies
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Tijdschrift voor toegepaste logistiek 2020 nr. 9
in the industry. As such, they are knowledgeable about trends and developments in the
sector, about current oerings in logistics bachelor curricula as well as industry needs.
Most professionals have experience as hiring managers of graduate students, hence, they
have rst-hand information on recruiting requirements of junior logisticians. Additionally,
given their experience in the sector, they are knowledgeable about current trends and
developments. All but one respondent work in The Netherlands.
Data sources and research instruments
The purpose of the interviews is twofold. Given that competency requirements change
with trends and developments in the sector, the aim is to obtain insight in competency
requirements of logistics bachelor graduates as well as to gain understanding of future
developments in the eld of logistics and how they aect competency requirements of
bachelor graduates that start as entry-level logisticians in the industry.
Interviews with academics. In total, eight in-depth semi-structured interviews were
conducted with academics. As these academics all work in close collaboration with
companies and have experience with student internship supervision, these interviews
helped to gain insight in trends and developments in logistics and what these imply for
competency requirements of bachelor graduates in logistics.
Interviews with senior logistics professionals. In total, ten in-depth semi-structured interviews
were conducted with senior logistics professionals. These interviews helped us to gain
insights in the most prevalent logistics trends and developments considered by companies.
Additionally, it provided information on the competency aspects of bachelor graduates
that companies consider important now and in the near future, particularly given the
developments in the sector.
The interviews are based on the preliminary logistics competency framework developed in
section 2. First, we asked open questions about future logistics trends. Thereafter, we asked
questions directly related to logistics trends identied in the literature review. Second,
we asked open questions about knowledge, skills and attitude requirements that are
considered critical for bachelor graduates as future logisticians. Again, we followed up with
questions about specic KSA’s. We started with open questions as we wanted respondents
to come up with ideas and suggestions that they consider relevant, before providing
them with suggestions about trends, developments and KSA’s, therewith possibly biasing
information provided. In this regard, the competency framework from section 2 was used as
a checklist. Respondents were encourages to elaborate on their answers to obtain in-dept
insight. The interviews were recorded and transcribed afterwards.
52
Ready for the future: an exploratory study
Data analysis
To be able to analyse the amount of data generated through qualitative data collection,
the transcribed interviews were coded and categorized for analysis. We rearranged the
qualitative data to help recognize patterns in the data and to draw meaningful conclusions
(Sekaran & Bougie, 2016). The data analysis is based on four steps (Sekaran & Bougie, 2016):
The researchers coded the data by formulating codes based on the content of key phrases
or sentences. For instance, remarks about customer relation management were coded as
‘CRM’ and insights about information-driven technology and big data were coded as data’.
As an example of what the coding scheme looks like, Figure 1 provides an overview of part
of the coding scheme used. Column 2 shows the code name that was used and column 3
provides a brief explanation of the code.
Once the data was coded, the codes were categorized. The types of trends are distinguished
into social trends and technological trends, based on the categorisation of the DHL Trend
Radar (Chung et al., 2018). As explained in section 1, following our denition of competency,
we distinguish knowledge, skills and attitudes. Therefore, codes related to these KSA’s were
grouped together accordingly. Skills were categorized as hard skill or soft skill (see section
2.2.1). Column 1 in Figure 1 indicates the code (sub-)category based on this categorisation.
Figure 1 Partial sheet of the data analysis process. Each trend/development and KSA is shown with
one code as an example. T = Technology, S = Social, A = Academics, SP = Senior professional
Category and
sub-category
Coding unit Description Resp.
(A) .1
Resp.
(A).2
Resp.
(A).3
Resp.
(SP ).1
Resp.
(SP).2
Resp.
(SP).3
count
(A)
count
(SP)
count
(total)
Future
trends (T)
automation robotics, automation
process operation, drone 5 6 11
Future
trends (S)
sustain-
ability
sustainable business
development 4 5 6
Knowledge Business general business knowledge,
financial/T/sale&marketing/
supply chain fiance, opera-
tion process, un derstand the
value chain
5 9 14
Soft skills communi-
cation
internal and external
communication 6 6 12
Hard skills IT & data basic to intermediate IT skills;
data analysis: interpretation
and underst and the data
6 9 15
Attitude proactive/
initiative
proactive, taking the
initiative, don’t w ait until
problem come to you
5 8 13
Must-have skills data data analysis 7 8 15
Better t o have,
no obligated skills
leadership leadership and managerial
skills 8 8 16
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Tijdschrift voor toegepaste logistiek 2020 nr. 9
Findings
In this section, we present the ndings from the in-depth interviews. First we discuss the
trends and development that the respondents observe and expect to develop in the eld
of logistics in section 4.1. Finaly, in section 4.2, we present the ndings on the competency
requirements of future logistics graduates.
Trends in logistics
Based on their experience in the eld of logistics, respondents provided an outlook on the
developments that will aect the eld of logistics in the near future (i.e., the coming three
to ve years). In this regard, respondents addressed various technological as well as social
and business trends which they observe in the industry and/or expect to develop in the
area of logistics. An overview of the trends mentioned in the interviews is given in Table 2.
Respondents agree that automation and robotisation will continue to develop in, and
change, operations processes. They believe such technology will continue to be one of the
main trends in the eld of logistics in the coming years. An academic addressed the potential
of drones to be used for the delivery of goods and he expects to see this application more
and more in the future. Respondents also recognise that the use of Data Science is a key
trend that will signicantly aect the eld of logistics. Relatedly, respondents observe and
expect that logistics operations will digitalise further. Because of the technological trends
and developments resulting, for instance, in more and more possibilities to collect, store
and analyse data, logistics will become smarter. This oers opportunities for companies to
further reduce their logistics costs.
Furthermore, various social and business trends were highlighted by the experts in our
study. For one, sustainability is expected to continue to grow in importance. Particularly,
stakeholders’ expectations about sustainable business operations force companies to
implement sustainability strategies. Also, respondents expect that the demand for human
capital, particularly high-skilled logisticians, remains an important issue. The working
population in the logistics sector is ageing. In the coming years, this will result in an
increase in the outow of logistics professionals. At the same time, the inow of logistics
professionals is declining, strengthening personnel shortages. Furthermore, to be able to
compete in the marketplace customisation and personalisation of products and services
as well as customer relationship management is expected to grow in importance. In this
regard, the use of omni-channel strategies will be important for organisations to improve
customer/user experience.
54
Ready for the future: an exploratory study
Additionally, respondents indicate that collaborations between companies and their
stakeholders will continue to grow in importance in order to be able to keep up with
the rapid developments in their business environment. In response to technological
developments, changing customer demands and the prevalence of societal issues, new
business models will be created and some companies might combine dierent business
strategies. Respondents expected that the trends they observe and expect to develop will
provide more opportunities to increase the eciency of operations, enable shorter lead-
times and further optimize supplychains
Table 2 Findings of technological and social & business trends.
Technological trends Automation, robotisation, drones
Information- and data-driven technologies, big data
IT technolo gy (e.g., blockchain, artificial intelligence)
Digitalisati on of operations
Social and business
trends
Importance of sustainability
Increasing stakeholder expectations
Personalisation and customisation of product s and services
Demand for highly skilled logisticians
E-commerce
Customer relationship management
Sharing economy and sharing logistics
Omni-channel strategies
Complexity of supplychain structures
Standardisation of logistics o perations, controlled by large enterprises
Quality control
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Tijdschrift voor toegepaste logistiek 2020 nr. 9
Table 3 Findings of competency requirements (knowledge, skills, attitudes) for logistics graduates.
Additions to the preliminary framework are indicated in italics
Knowledge about Skills Attitude
Hard skills Soft skills
Basic logistics Analytical Business communication Flexibility
Basic technology and
innovation
Planning Collaboration Construc tive
Data Science IT and databas e
* Data Science
* ERP systems
* Excel, MS Office
Strategi c Openness
General business Foreign language Team wo rk Proac tive
IT and sof tware Problem solving Curious
Sustainability Time management Adaptive
Process management Intercultural management Reliable
Change management Leadership
Innovation and entrepre-
neurship
Managerial
Competency requirements
The ndings on competency requirements of logistics bachelor graduates are provided in
Table 3. The table indicates the knowledge, skills and attitude aspects that experts in our
study identied as important for bachelor graduates in logistics in the near future. Additions
and changes to the preliminary framework are indicated in italics. In sum, knowledge and
skills related current technological developments such as robotics, blockchain, the internet
of things and articial intelligence were indicated to be important. At the same time,
respondents underlined the increasing importance of soft skills compared to hard skills.
Next, we discuss the ndings on important knowledge, skills and attitude requirements in
more detail. We do so by relating them to the trends and developments that are identied,
and expected to develop, in logistics practice.
Knowledge
Respondents acknowledge that basic logistics knowledge, such as knowledge on
warehouse and inventory management, incoterms, customer service, trade law, forecasting,
e-commerce and process optimisation remain essential knowledge for young logisticians.
Furthermore, technological trends play an important role in the logistics sector. Trends
such as digitalisation, robotics, blockchain, internet of things, articial intelligence and
developments in the eld of Data Science change, and will continue to change, the way
56
Ready for the future: an exploratory study
jobs are performed and work is organized. Some jobs will change in task content, others
will disappear and new jobs will arise. For logisticians it is important that they are able to
work with these new technologies and tools, hence, knowledge about such technologies
and related IT/software is essential to be able to function on the job. Therefore, logisticians
should have a basic understanding of such technological developments and innovations
and on how to apply these tools in practice.
In addition, respondents expect sustainability to become a more important knowledge area
for logisticians. Sustainability is an important issue that concerns the society as a whole.
In the eld of logistics eorts are taken, and have to be taken, to make supplychains more
sustainable. In addition, stakeholder expectations regarding sustainability increase. Therefore,
junior logisticians should have knowledge about green logistics/sustainability and innovations
and developments in this area. In this regard, one may speak about understanding of the
circular economy, an economy ‘that is restorative by design, and which aims to keep products,
components and materials at their highest utility and value, at all times’ (Webster, 2017, p. 17).
Also, our respondents indicated that it is important for future logistics graduates to have
a proper understanding of the entire business process. Because of, amongst others, the
globalisation of supplychains and business operations, the business environment becomes
more complex. Maintaining and improving eciency and optimizing the use of resources
becomes more complex. At the same time, logistics is linked more and more to the
strategic business processes of companies and organisations. Therefore, it is important that
logisticians are able to take a broader perspective, to see linkages and be able to cooperate
with other departments/functions. Hence, it is vital that logistics graduates gain knowledge
about general business (e.g., nance, marketing and sales, operations management).
Relatedly, knowledge about business processes, including business process management,
analysis and improvement, is essential.
However, knowledge about the business and how to do things should be complemented
with knowledge about change management. In order to implement initiatives, to bring
about change, to be able to improve, the status quo has to change. People have to do
things dierently or have to do dierent things. To realise this, knowledge about change
management is considered highly important.
Skills
To adequately function on the job, knowledge or understanding alone is not sucient.
Knowledge should be applied appropriately to successfully perform tasks and activities, i.e.,
one should have the right skills. Respondents in this study indicate that whilst hard skills
remain important, soft skills will become more important in the future.
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Tijdschrift voor toegepaste logistiek 2020 nr. 9
Hard skills
With more possibilities to collect and store increasing amounts of data, and more
possibilities to analyse data, digital and data analysis tools will be applied more often in
business activities. Therefore, having appropriate IT and data science skills are becoming
more important for logistics graduates. It has been acknowledged that graduates are
able to work with IT systems, for instance ERP systems that are used in practice. Relatedly,
it becomes more important to have data science skills to be able to process data to distil
relevant information and understand and interpret results. In this regard, analytical skills,
i.e., the ability to analyse information, to be able to detect patterns, to make sense of data,
to think critically, are highly important. Respondents indicate that, as MS Excel is often used
in logistics business to analyse and plan logistics activities, respondents stress the relevance
of having sucient MS Excel skills. Furthermore, respondents indicate that speaking one or
more foreign languages is also relevant for logistics graduates.
Soft skills
Experts in our study emphasized the increasing importance of soft skills. The business
environment becomes more complex and cross-border logistics activities will increase. To
operate in such an environment, logisticians must nog only have good communication
skills, but also good intercultural management skills to be able to work with people with
dierent cultural backgrounds. Our respondents acknowledge the importance of leadership
and management skills but indicate that these are skills that can, and typically, are being
developed through experience, hence, they can be developed at a later stage and are not
necessarily must-haves for bachelor graduates in logistics. Moreover, time management,
i.e., being able to prioritize tasks to get the job done in time, as well as problem-solving
skills are also considered to be important skill requirements.
Attitude
Our respondent acknowledge the importance of a professional attitude. This is particularly
important in the eld of logistics given the way in which work is arranged. Often logisticians
work independently, without close proximity to supervisors. Such a working environment
brings about responsibility. Indeed, reliability was indicated as an important attitudinal trait.
Senior professionals in our study believe the work performance of logistics graduates could
be highly inuenced by their attitude. Based on observations and evaluation of logistics
graduates’ working performance, these professionals indicate that the ones who are
enthusiastic, exible and motivated are more likely to adapt their working environment
faster, learn more new knowledge at work and perform better than the ones who are
demotivated, rigid and passive. Professionals indicated that attitude aspects play an
important role in the recruitment process.
58
Ready for the future: an exploratory study
In addition, our respondents indicated that logistics graduates should be proactive and
curious. Given the fast changing business environment they need to be exible with
working routines and know-how to adapt to changes in the working environment. On the
top of this, logistics graduates need to maintain a constructive attitude; they need to be
open to new ideas, support the team and be helpful in tackling problems.
Discussion
To keep up with the erce competition in the eld of Logistics and SCM, companies require
employees with the appropriate competencies to full their job successfully. With the rapid
societal and technological developments companies face, the role as well as the required
knowledge and skillset of logisticians is changing. To deliver logistics professionals that can
full their job adequately, it is important to update curricula of educational programs in
Logistics and SCM on a regular basis.
However, while competencies have received increasing attention in Logistics and SCM
research (Hohenstein et al., 2014), there are no or limited recent and solid studies that
provide insight on competencies that graduates starting as entry-level logisticians should
possess. Therefore, in this study, we examined developments in the eld of Logistics and
SCM and analysed the competency requirements of bachelor graduates in logistics now
and in the near future. To do so, we conducted a literature review complemented with in-
depth interviews with professionals and academics.
The ndings indicate the importance of technological trends such as digitalisation,
automation and robotics, and data-driven logistics, blockchain and articial intelligence.
These trends may help companies to reduce logistics-related costs, increase margins,
improve operational processes and shorten lead times and optimize supplychains.
Additionally, the impact of social and business trends such as the focus on sustainability,
increasing customer expectations, more personalisation and customisation and the growth
of e-commerce should be taken into ccount. The complexity of supplychains increases,
they become more agile and relationship-focused, dierent stakeholders are involved and
customers have higher expectations leading to more personalisation and responsiveness
(Kersten et al., 2017). To keep up with the competition and developments in the business
environment, quickly applying and/or adapting to these developments is vital. To enable
this, employees should have the appropriate competencies (Wagner et al., 2019).
Technological developments like automation and robotisation signicantly impacts
logisticians jobs. Some jobs change in terms of content, others disappear and new ones
arrive (Chung et al., 2018; Wilkinson & Barry, 2020). For example, the automation of
warehouses makes human order pickers unnecessary. However, employees are required
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Tijdschrift voor toegepaste logistiek 2020 nr. 9
to monitor the automated processes, to act when the technology fails and to handle
exceptions (Pals, 2019). At the same time, technological developments will also enable
the improvement of the quality of jobs as they take over repetitive and/or labour intensive
tasks (Wilkinson & Barry, 2020). Note that technological advancements are also necessary
given the increasing shortage in skilled logisticians on the one hand, and e.g., a growth in
e-commerce purchases and related pressure to shorten order fullment and delivery times
on the other hand (Chung et al., 2018).
With these technological advancements, operational tasks are being automated more,
with, for instance, the use of AI to automate back-oce tasks. This requires employees who
have a monitoring role, who have a proactive attitude and possess problem-solving skills,
who are creative and pragmatic to act on exceptions and problems that arise. Thereby, the
focus of the logistician shifts from the operational to the strategic level (de Vries et al., 2019).
Whereas in logistics traditionally the focus was on eciency and economies of scale, the
focus will be more on being smart (Pals, 2019).
The logistician of the future will be for a large part an analyst and hard skills remain
important. As a result of technological developments, possibilities to collect, store and
analyze data, increase, enabling data-driven decision-making. For instance, telematics
systems that continuously collect data about vehicle locations or RFID technology enabling
the tracking of products in warehouses and from door to door oer opportunities for,
amongst others, optimisation of transport planning or order picking. To seize those
opportunities and reap the benets, companies require employees who have basic
knowledge about technology and innovation, about IT and software and data science but
also hard analytical skills, IT and data science skills to transform data to information that can
be used for decision-making. Analytic skills are important to understand business processes
and optimally use IT tools (de Vries et al., 2019). Interestingly, Wilkinson and Barry (2020)
report that about 90% of the jobs now require IT skills but that there are over 60 million
people in the EU that have insucient basic skills in this area.
Besides the technological developments, the social context is becoming more important
in logistics. Amongst others, strategies will focus more on (long term) relationships than
(short term) transactions, there is more customisation and more internal and external
(international) collaboration. These developments ask for logisticians who possess soft skills
such as collaboration skills and communication skills but also intercultural management
skills. Furthermore, technological innovations play an important role and potentially
have a large impact. However, their success largely depends on the successful adaptation
and implementation by employees. It means that employees have to have a exible,
adaptive attitude and are open to lifelong learning to function in a continuously evolving
environment. To realize change, soft skills such as change management and leadership
skills and being able to motivate and coach people are becoming more important.
60
Ready for the future: an exploratory study
To summarize, having a T-shaped prole, possessing specialist- and general knowledge and
skills, is, and will be, important for logisticians (de Vries et al., 2019). Logistics employees
should be specialists and generalists at the same time. Specialist knowledge and skills are
required for e.g., process optimisation and the functioning in specic links in the chain. As
logistics is the linking pin between dierent parts of the company/the supplychain, general
knowledge about other business areas and an interdisciplinary perspective are required to
be able to communicate and understand the functioning of dierent parts of the chain.
This study has some limitations and oers directions for futher research. First, this study
focssed particularly on competency requirements of logisticians in the Netherlands.
Because logistics demands may vary depending on the logistics region, a direction for
further research is to include other countries/regions in the study. In this regard, this study
oers a starting point. Furthermore, this study is based on 18 in-depth interviews. While this
was sucient given the exploratory nature of this study, a suggestion for further research
is to develop a survey to obtain more representative insight in the importance of KSA’s,
to assess their relative importance and compare ndings across countries or regions. The
ndings of this study can be used as a starting point.
Conclusion
In this study we developed a framework listing the competency requirements for
bachelor graduates in logistics given the trends and developments within the logistics
sector. This framework provides insight for bachelor logistics education programs to
develop their logistics and supplychain management curricula so they are tailored to
the future competency requirements in the sector. We conducted a literature review that
was complemented with in-depth expert interviews. Technological developments like
automation and robotisation signicantly impact logisticians jobs and their competency
requirements. With these technological advancements, operational tasks are being
automated more and decision-making will be more data-driven. Logisticians will take
on more monitoring roles. As a result, analytical and problem-solving skills, a proactive,
adaptive and exible attitude, knowledge and skills regarding technology and innovation,
IT and software, and data science are becoming more important. At the same time, the
social context will become more important. On the one hand, strategies are more relation-
focused, there is more customisation and collaboration. On the other hand, technological
developments are to be adapted and implemented by employees in order to reap the
benets. A exible, adaptive attitude will become important and communication and
collaboration skills, change management, managerial and leadership skills to realize change
will be more important. Having a T-shaped prole, i.e., being a specialist and a generalist,
remains vital for graduate logisticians in the near future.
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Ready for the future: an exploratory study
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... Veel voorkomende tekortkomingen zijn: kernbegrippen worden onvoldoende gedefinieerd en geoperationaliseerd, de gehanteerde aanpak is weinig transparant en/ of de gehanteerde steekproef is (te) klein en/ of niet-representatief. Zo zijn bijvoorbeeld de recente onderzoeken van Manders, Vreys & Jonker (2020) en Hofstra et al. (2020) gebaseerd op een relatief kleine steekproef en bieden ze geen inzicht hoe technologische ontwikkelingen van invloed zijn op ontwikkeling van logistieke functies en de bijbehorende skills. Wat verder opvalt is dat in bestaande vacatureonderzoeken zoals McKinsey Global Institute (2017a,2017b,2018, Skills Navigator (2019), en Panteia (2020) geen rekening wordt gehouden met de maturity van de betreffende bedrijven op het gebied van digitalisering, etc. Inzicht in de relatie tussen het maturity-level en de gevraagde skills (via vacature analyse) kan helpen om beter inzicht te krijgen in hoe de benodigde skills zich in de (nabije) toekomst zullen gaan ontwikkelen. ...
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Bij het inrichten van nieuwe en bestaande warehouses wordt in steeds grotere mate digitalisering en robotisering toegepast. Diverse onderzoeken zijn reeds uitgevoerd naar de impact op de banen van de toekomst in de logistiek door de digitalisering en robotisering, hierbij wordt echter niet ingegaan op de veranderende skills van medewerkers op verschillende opleidingsniveaus. In deze bijdrage presenteren we het ontwerp van de Logistics Skills of the Future (LSF) - scan, waarbij vanuit drie verschillende beroepsrollen de belangrijkste skills in een door technologie veranderende warehousecontext worden vastgesteld. Vervolgens is de LSF-scan door middel van een survey afgenomen en zijn de resultaten geïnterpreteerd met diverse experts. Hieruit is gebleken dat de LSF-scan een waardevolle manier is om inzicht te krijgen in de belangrijkste logistieke skills voor de komende 5 tot 10 jaar in een, door technologie, veranderende warehousecontext.
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Finance is widely seen as an obstacle to a better world. Principles of Sustainable Finance explains how the financial sector can be mobilized to counter this and provides many examples and tools. Using finance as a means to achieve social goals we can divert the planet and its economy from its current path to a world that is sustainable for all. Written for undergraduate, graduate, and executive students of finance, economics, business, and sustainability, this textbook combines theory, empirical data, and policy to explain the sustainability challenges for corporate investment. It shows how investors and bankers can steer funding to sustainable companies and projects without sacrificing return and thus speed up the transition to a sustainable economy. Tailored for students, Principles of Sustainable Finance starts each chapter with an overview and learning objectives to support study. It includes suggestions for further reading, definitions of key concepts, and extensive use is made of figures, boxes, and tables to enhance educational goals and clarify concepts.
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PURPOSE: This paper identifies specific qualifications and competences required within the field of logistics and supply chain management from the perspective of lifelong learning and hierarchical level. It also reveals a hierarchy level-specific job profile for logistics and supply chain management jobs based on the European Framework for Key Competences and the German Federal Employment Agency. METHODOLOGY: A review of the literature on competences and skills in the field of logistics is combined with an analysis of 832 job postings by means of content analyses and thematic mapping. FINDINGS: The academic literature discusses more than 280 skills and competences related to the job profile of logistics and supply chain managers. The majority of these skills represent social skills. Analyses of job postings show significant differences in the required portfolio of skills and competences depending on the hierarchical level of the position. Contrary to the literature, job postings include more cognitive competences and meta-competences than social skills. CONTRIBUTION: The first contribution of our research is that competences were examined from the perspective of lifelong learning, revealing how this is applied in the field of logistics. The second is that our conceptual framework can be utilised to compare skills and competences between different hierarchical levels. The third contribution refers to identifying a set of skills and competences different to what had been presented in the literature. KEYWORDS: Logistics and supply chain management skills, qualifications of logistics and supply chain management personnel, human resource management, lifelong learning.
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Purpose This paper presents an integrated view of the literature published on all aspects and facets of competence in supply chain management (SCM) and furthermore provides a framework for classifying and analyzing literature to facilitate further study, practice, and research. Design/methodology/approach A systematic literature review identified 98 peer-reviewed scientific journal publications on the subject of competence in SCM. Findings This review identifies and classifies the key content of the subject based on whose competence (level of analysis) and the type of competence (competence element), resulting in a framework that brings together aspects at the individual and organizational level, and of the functional, relational, managerial, and behavioral elements of competence from the SCM literature. It furthermore displays the timeliness and wide-ranging character of the subject, as presented by the evolutionary timeline and the main research streams. Research limitations/implications Although competence in SCM is a key to business success, the subject is ambiguous and an explicit need exists for more research. This paper provides a foundation for future examination of and theory building in this subject. It also alerts researchers to complementary studies outside of their own “customary” domains. Practical implications This paper can support managers in their pursuit to secure competence in SCM and thereby improve outcomes on both individual and organizational level. It can furthermore assist in the development of relevant programs and training sessions. Originality/value To the best of our knowledge, this work represents the first systematic literature review on the subject of competence in SCM. In addition, it proposes a taxonomy for mapping and evaluating research on this subject.
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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.
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In the 30 years since its inception, the field, profession, and practice of logistics and supply chain management have undergone profound business transformation. This study uses shadowing and practice theory to explore the nature of manager competence in logistics and supply chain management. The results suggest that logistics and supply chain managers use business managerial, generic, and behavioral competences in practice rather than supply chain management expertise. Although the existing literature depicts competences as discrete and factor-based, the findings further reveal how managers use combinations of competences that create synergistic effects. The findings imply that the level of competence in practice extends beyond the sum of individual competences. In particular, company experience is a distinct key competence that managers constantly use in combination with other competences, and thereby has a significant effect on manager competences. The results produce four propositions for future research.