Bridging the Skills Gap

At the end of last year, we highlighted an innovative new way companies could address the skills gap by having employees continue their education online through top institutions. I was fortunate enough to be able to complete part of the MIT Supply Chain program offered through EdX. I want to take this opportunity to talk briefly about the course itself and what these sort of opportunities can mean for the skills gap employers face.

Supply Chain Design Program Highlights

I enrolled in Supply Chain Design, which is part two of five in obtaining an MIT MicroMasters in Supply Chain Management. Knowing that MIT has the top rated supply chain/logistics program in the United States made this opportunity all that much more enticing. The course ran over 10 weeks culminating with a final exam. Each week there were two lessons, each of which would be broken up into a half dozen five to 15 minute video lecture clips highlighting key ideas. A transcript accompanied the video, which I found helpful when I needed clarification. After each video segment there would be a short series of questions which were ungraded to help reinforce the ideas the previous segment had taught. In addition, the lessons would often have sample excel sheets to download which would help demonstrate the concepts being discussed.

After completing both lessons, there were additional practice problems and supplemental resources available for further understanding. There was also an active discussion forum where teaching assistants and other classmates were available to discuss problems you were having with the course material or any questions you had. Once confident with the subject matter, each week’s class had graded homework. These assignments would build on the concepts demonstrated in lecture but with students having to set up optimizations and modifying as the problem dictated.

The course moved rapidly but intelligently over a number of topics. Summarizing the course, I learned how to:

  • Design supply chain networks and flow
  • Translate supply chain actions into financial terms
  • Source and procure products and services
  • Plan, demand and run operations planning
  • Design a supply chain organization
  • Assess supply chain performance metrics

The Future of Continued Education And The Skills Gap

I found this course to be incredibly informative and helpful for my role at QAD, but looking at it from a broader perspective I think this sort of learning is the future of continued education. A traditional challenge of continued education has been the cost, not only purely in dollars but also in the time spent by employees away and at universities. This EdX format reduces this through a low or no cost format available anywhere on a flexible schedule.

As more top institutions provide low cost online learning opportunities, I think this becomes a more and more viable way to improve the talent and ability of existing workforces and address the skills gap.

As a working professional, have you participated in continued education to supplement your current skills or work toward a new career? Do you prefer online or traditional courses? I’d love to hear what you find most helpful in sharpening skills while working full time.

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