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Playtime, puzzles, and preparation: Supporting the next generation of supply chain leaders

Author : Megan Preston Meyer, author of the Supply Jane & Fifo Adventures

11 August 2022

The three-year-old pushing her toy truck around and the six-year-old creating elaborate Lego designs are the supply chain and manufacturing leaders of tomorrow.

They may not know it yet – and may not find out for decades. In fact, most industry professionals I’ve talked to didn’t set out to pursue a career in the supply chain; they just sort of stumbled into it. 

Imagine, then, what would happen if we removed the stumbling blocks for the next generation.

The toddler trucker and building block assembly technician are already on the path; how can we keep that career path open, accessible, and attractive? 

The first step is building awareness. Expose them to media that celebrates everyday people doing everyday jobs. For every cartoon and book about an astronaut, throw in one that’s a little more down-to-earth. Then, get them involved. Manufacturing and supply chain concepts are easy to make kid friendly. They are concrete, real, and visible – if you know where to look. 

Your next trip to the grocery store can be an adventure. Before you go in, drive around to the back and check out the loading docks: green beans and peaches don’t grow in the store; they have to be brought in by truck. Check the expiration dates on the chocolate milk: why are the cartons in the front different from the cartons in the back? Discuss an empty shelf: what might have gone wrong to make your favourite type of tortilla chips unavailable?

Have conversations with your kids about the way things work and about the people who make them work. They’ll start seeing the world as systems and processes – puzzles to be figured out. And that’s just the beginning – once kids realise that they are capable of understanding how things work, they can start thinking critically about whether things are working as well as they possibly can… and will recognise their own agency and ability to do something about it if they’re not. 

That curiosity and drive will keep them on the path toward the future. 

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