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Career Mobility Built on Professional Competence

A professional designation is a public statement of the personal competence of the individual who earns it. It is also the public statement of corporate capacity to succeed built on employee competence.

by Victor Deyglio

Professional designation, whether a P.Log., MD, or P.Eng. (PE in the USA), differs from academic credentials in that the professional designation indicates what one can do, what skills one applies in doing it, and what competencies are required to be successful. It represents more than what one knows and what one has studied.

Successful careers build on professional competence and academic excellence. Mobility rides the twin tracks of professionalism and formal education.

Competency Standards for SCL professional Careers. From its foundation, the Logistics Institute has partnered with the logistics community to define the competency standards of logistics professionals from frontline to executive. The result of community consultation is the Supply Chain Logistics competency Standard is where competency development begins for individuals and companies alike.

This SCL Competency Standard has its origin in the Institute's Career Path Model, which was developed as part of the 1997 LMI study conducted by Coopers and Lybrand (PWC/IBM solutions), and funded by Human resources and Skills Development Canada now called Human Resources and Social Development . Since 1997, the Institute enhanced this base Model, using the Skills, Knowledge and Aptitude (SKA) and Career standards found in the National Occupational Classification (NOC) and the NOC career Handbook, published by the Government of Canada.

Career Mobility. Competency development is a process encapsulated in the Career Mobility Framework that identifies various paths to SCL certification. Where the Competency Standard provides the vision, the Mobility framework identifies the paths to get there. This is more than knowledge management; it is SKA development.

Entry onto a path in the Framework depends on where individuals are in their careers, and opens up opportunities for practitioners at all skill levels to earn professional status and advance a career in logistics. At each stage, one earns a credential specific to that stage and SKA/competency, while simultaneously being given a training plan to advance further.

Each path aligns different professional development programs in response to specific SKA requirements. For instance, the Standard Certification program is positioned at the middle range of management development and designed for current practitioners on senior management career paths. On the other hand, the Executive certification Program meets the needs of current executives with a focus on Global Supply Chains, Initiating and Leading Change, and Strategic HR Management (leading with and through values).

At the other end of the competency spectrum, the Frontline Logistics program is positioned at the middle range of supervisory development and designed for current practitioners in supervisory jobs. Even more significantly, the Essentials Logistics Program is positioned at an entry point into a logistics career, and is meant for those leaving school as new hires, as well as for those at the tactical range of logistics skills.

Partnering for Professionalism. A key value of this Career Mobility Framework is the opportunity for supply chain logistics stakeholders to partner in professionalism. For instance, developed in partnership with the Centre for innovative Management at Athabasca university, the Management development program is positioned at the upper range of supervisory development and designed for current practitioners enroute to management careers.

Furthermore, working with the institute of Industrial Engineers in Ireland, the Lean Supply Chain Program is positioned at the lower range of management development and designed for current practitioners already in management jobs. Of greater significance is the opportunity for those on the Lean Path to earn a professional designation recognized in the EU, as well as advance to the P.Log. This is partnering in professionalism on an international scale.

The Framework also provides a foundation to bridge the gap between the learner community (students, teachers, schools) and business. Working with colleges and universities in Canada and the US, the Institute is implementing an Education Partnership Strategy. This Strategy aims at positioning education programs within the Framework as paths to professionalism. In this way, students will more easily enter the workforce and build logistics professional careers, while businesses will access employees with enhanced competencies and advanced education in supply chain logistics.

Career Hopping. Logistics careers entail a significant amount of "hopping". Different from other professions, logistics careers do not develop along straight paths from entry to executive. A significant amount of horizontal movement along business experiences is endemic.

Within the life of a logistics career one will move from logistics service providers (3PL, transporter), to service users (HP, IBM), and back again. One will develop breadth and depth of experience through the full spectrum of logistics functionalities, hopping from procurement, to operations management, to distribution, warehousing and transport in a multiple web of opportunities. One can go global, be local, and do both. Logistics expertise can lead to finance and IT careers, while industrial engineering whets the appetite for logistics careers.

How one begins and where one ends up are open ended opportunities and entail infinite possibilities. The Career Mobility Framework provides a road map through the maze.