Seeking Feedback on Draft National Occupational Standards
Occupational standards have long been required by employers in the supply chain sector to develop job descriptions, evaluate performance, plan education and training for employees, and improve their human-resources planning. Through a current project, the Council is developing 14 standards to meet that need.
Twelve draft occupational standards have been posted on the Council's website
. They, and two other standards that are to be posted soon, will be available for review until the end of May, at which time final revisions will be made to the standards.
Interested in any of these positions?
- Cargo and Freight Agent
- Inventory Manager
- Logistics Manager
- Material Handler
- Materials Manager
- Order Picker/Selector
- Sales and Marketing Manager
- Shipper and Receiver
- Supervisor – Material Handlers
- Transportation Manager
- Warehouse Operations Manager
New Project Focused on Material Handler Skills Upgrading
The Council has received funding from the Government of Canada's Sector Council Program for a new project through which essential-skills requirements for material-handling occupations will be defined and an accreditation framework for training providers will be established.
The Council will develop a process to ensure that material handlers – specifically forklift and reach-truck operators – have the requisite skills and competencies to operate their equipment safely and efficiently in workplaces throughout the sector, and that the acquisition of such skills is achieved through training that is accepted and recognized nationally by the sector.
This project is just getting underway. If you are interested in participating in the project's Working Group, contact Dale Ross, at email@example.com
Attention Educators! The Council's National Accreditation Program Gets Underway
The Council's National Accreditation Program for supply chain educational programs and courses will recognize programming that meets an industry-established standard, written by the Canadian Standards Association with significant input from supply chain stakeholders. Post-secondary institutions, associations and private training schools are eligible to submit their programs and courses for review.
The Council's recognition of teaching programs through its National Accreditation Program will give those making education decisions – whether they’re students, guidance counsellors or employers – a means to identify high-quality programs with relevant course content. While accredited programs may not be superior to others that are not accredited, they are proven. Over time, the Council anticipates that the advantage this will give institutions with accredited programs will grow in importance, furnishing them with a competitive advantage for enrolment.
Submission of programs for accreditation review is voluntary. Course or program details are provided in response to an online questionnaire and are submitted to the CSCSC electronically. Information is reviewed by the CSCSC’s Accreditation Review Panel, which will meet four times a year to review submissions received in the preceding three months.
Fees for review through the National Accreditation Program are $100 per course or $750 per program. These fees will be waived for those institutions and organizations that participate in the first round of the Program, for which submissions are required by July 31, 2009. The review process will be completed in about two months, meaning that offerings evaluated in the first wave will be accredited in September or October of this year. Institutions whose programs or courses do not achieve accreditation will be counselled regarding deficiencies and encouraged to resubmit information once deficiencies have been addressed. Resubmissions are made at no additional cost to the learning provider.
Anyone interested in having a program or course reviewed in the first round of the CSCSC’s National Accreditation Program should register his or her interest by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about the National Accreditation Program standard and review process is available by contacting the Council office.
Perception Changing: Tour for Teachers and Students
The CSCSC, along with the Canadian Automotive Repair and Service Council, is working with the Toronto District School Board and Lakeshore Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke, Ont., in an education/sector council partnership designed to build students' and parents’ awareness of supply chain careers, initiate courses and programs that are focused on the supply chain sector, and develop a model for industry/education partnerships that can be adapted for application anywhere in the country. Through this partnership, the Council aims to provide real-world information and experiences to youth as they make critical decisions about their future paths. More information about the partnership can be found on the CSCSC website
As an early step in this initiative, the two sector councils organized a tour on April 15 for a group of Lakeshore CI teachers, students and parents to showcase the many occupations involved in the installation of new tires. The tour brought to life roles that are identified in a related case study
that defines the skills required to competently perform the duties of each of the positions.
Nine teachers, six students and a parent started their day at the Mississauga distribution centre of Supply Chain Management Inc., one of Canada’s largest retail logistics services company. Participants heard from employees about their responsibilities as they learned about the workings of SCM's state-of-the-art facility. Five presenters each explained the fit of his or her particular job in the supply chain, and about educational requirements for the position.
Later in the day, participants visited an OK Tire facility to get a look at the jobs people do there to order, receive and install the tires their customers need.
Students and teachers on the tour gained a "deeper understanding of occupations in the supply chain sector," according to Beth Butcher, principal of Lakeshore CI, as well as "more respect for the process and people involved" in supply chain operations. They learned, too, of the many job opportunities available in the sector. Perhaps most importantly, to at least some of the students, participants discovered the possibility of career advancement, from entry-level positions to management, for employees with solid soft skills, such as flexibility, good attitude and good communication skills. This prospect gives hope, says Ms. Butcher, to those students who plan to enter the labour force immediately after completing high school.
Ms. Butcher believes that both students and industry "stand to benefit greatly" from partnerships that bring schools and employers together. By embedding supply chain, auto-repair and essential-skills components in the school's curriculum, Lakeshore will be equipping students to successfully enter jobs, giving hope to the students and meeting employers' needs for better-prepared labour-force entrants.
Dealing with Downsizing: How to Manage your Workforce During a Recession
There’s no doubt about it, it’s a tough time to be in business. Whether you own your company, hold a position in senior management or work in human resources, there is a lot of pressure on you to ensure that your organization makes it through the recession with the fewest battle scars possible.
One of the key factors to your success will be how you handle the people who work for you, especially if you are considering laying off staff.
Holding on to the employees you need
It’s tempting to assume that your employees are grateful just to have a job and would never dream of leaving during a recession, but that would be a costly mistake. A 2008 study published by the University of Wisconsin–Madison found that downsizing can actually lead to a higher rate of turnover, which can leave organizations without the critical people they need to keep operating through the tough times. Although they may not be actively looking, unhappy employees are usually open to new opportunities if they present themselves.
So how do you keep your employees from wanting to leave? Make a concerted effort to keep morale up; low morale leads to job dissatisfaction and poor productivity. It can be challenging in a recession, but it is possible. Here’s how.
- Increase communication. One of the worst things you can do during a recession is to leave your employees in the dark. Be open and honest with your employees – share both what you know and what you don’t know about how the economy is affecting your business. Whatever you do, don’t rely on email for communicating difficult news. It lacks tonality and can seem very cold and uncaring. Have regular staff meetings so employees have an opportunity to ask questions. And if you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say so.
- Invest in training. “Investing” in anything during a recession may seem counter-intuitive, but now is an excellent time to invest a little time and money in your employees. Continuing to plan for the future and showing your employees they are an important part of the company go a long way toward maintaining morale. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Take advantage of e-learning opportunities, plan a “Lunch & Learn” session, encourage employees to join trade associations that offer inexpensive training sessions, organize a mentoring program or arrange for employees who participate in off-site training to share what they’ve learned when they return to the office.
- Involve your employees in decision-making. As much as possible, involve your employees in major decisions like layoffs or salary cuts. Since they work in the trenches, they may have ideas that will surprise you, such as innovative ways to cut costs or get rid of inefficient processes. You may also find out how far employees are willing to go to avoid job losses. If you are facing dire circumstances, your employees might suggest alternatives to layoffs such as a pay cut, closing at noon on Fridays or other cost-saving measures. Most importantly, you will increase the amount of employee buy-in if they feel they are part of the decision-making process and not simply at the mercy of unseen faces working behind closed doors.
- Stay positive. A good attitude is infectious. Try to maintain a positive outlook and remember to share good news widely.
- Try to keep the little things. When budgets get tight, the first impulse is to cut everything that seems non-essential. If you can, keep the small perks that don’t cost very much but that really boost morale.
Avoiding layoffs altogether
Programs like the federal government’s Work-Sharing program may help you avoid permanent layoffs. Work-Sharing is an Employment Insurance (EI) program that enables companies whose business activities have been reduced due to circumstances beyond their control to cut back staff hours anywhere from one to three days a week. This helps companies reduce salary costs without resorting to layoffs.
With Work-Sharing, workers whose employers are participating in the program can draw EI benefits to help compensate for the loss of income. The program helps both the worker and the employer: employers retain the experienced staff they will need once the economy starts to improve and employees protect their income and maintain their skills.
The last resort: handling layoffs
Although it may sound odd, laying people off and retaining people actually go hand in hand. How you conduct layoffs and how you deal with those who remain will directly impact your bottom line. Mishandle either of those two things and you will be facing productivity and morale problems.
Why is it so important to carry out layoffs properly? For one thing, we now live in the age of social media and greater personal disclosure, which means there is a good chance some of your former employees will share their experiences (good, bad or ugly) on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or a blog. If the comments are negative, they can seriously harm your company’s reputation and your ability to attract new clients or employees.
Be aware that the employees who remain will be watching your actions very closely. Treat laid-off workers with respect and dignity and you will retain the respect of your employees. Show a lack of compassion or march a popular and well-respected employee to the door like a criminal and you will quickly find yourself facing a crisis in employee morale and a reduction in company loyalty.
So, how do you make sure that you conduct layoffs in a manner that reflects well on you and your company? It comes down to four basic principles.
- Plan layoffs carefully. If you find yourself in a position where you need to let people go, don’t act indiscriminately. Take the time to ensure your layoff plan and your business plan are in sync. Look at your current projects – particularly those that are critical to the business – and don’t forget to plan for the future. Make sure you have a clear idea of the projects that will get underway once the crisis is over. The last thing you want is to suddenly realize that a mission-critical project is in jeopardy because you let the wrong people go and now don’t have the talent and resources to proceed.
- Be prepared. You will make things easier both for yourself and the people you are laying off if you are well prepared. If you need to, write a script and practice it in front of a mirror until you can do it without sounding forced. Make a list of questions that might be asked and have answers ready. Be confident and get to the point, don’t make small talk. Keep in mind that much of what is said in a layoff meeting will not be retained, so have resources available for affected employees, such as information on benefits, separation terms, important contacts and other written information. Also, make sure you have fully planned the necessary post-layoff logistics. Will employees be allowed to say goodbye to colleagues? Will they be permitted some time to gather their belongings? Will you offer to pack up their things and have the boxes delivered to their home address?
- Know the law. One thing you really don’t need – in a recession or at any time – is a costly court battle, so make sure you know your responsibilities as an employer. The law stipulates that employees must get either some notice prior to dismissal or be compensated instead, although the particulars vary depending on the province or territory. There are also certain rules that apply when laying off groups of individuals, but again, the laws are different depending on the province. Speak to a lawyer or contact your provincial labour board to make sure that you are meeting your obligations in accordance with the law.
- Treat people with dignity and respect. It is human nature to shy away from uncomfortable situations, but as a manager you don’t have that luxury. Distancing yourself because you feel bad won’t make anyone feel better. Remember, this is not your fault, and avoiding people will not minimize feelings of guilt or hurt. In fact, it will make them worse. Be kind and compassionate. Losing your job can be a humiliating experience, so give people the respect they need.
Remember, the recession will end eventually, but what you do between now and then could have a direct impact on whether your business thrives – or nosedives. When the recession is finally over and business starts to return to normal, make sure that you and your employees are ready.
Provided by The Alliance of Sector Councils
Who Does What and Why Are We Here, Anyway?
By Chris Irwin, MBA
I was out this month with a friend who is embarking on a new phase of working life. (To be truthful, he is embarking on a lot of new stuff: just moved, recently married, starting a new family. He even has a new haircut.) I recounted to him some of my experiences in moving back to Canada after working in Japan for several years. In fresh-start situations like these, through sheer necessity, one gets good at answering the question, “What do you do?” This is a very portable skill and directly applies to working in cross-functional teams.
So, what do you do?
I worked recently with a client to organize a program-evaluation meeting that will include representatives of the organization from the national, provincial and local levels, as well as experts in education and training, volunteer management and technology support. Participants are tasked with bringing insight from their unique perspectives. The hope is that a comprehensive review conducted by a cross-functional group will bring about sustainable changes to the program.
“Why are you in this group/on this team?” is a question that is likely considered more than it is articulated. Proactively expressing their “expertise” can enable group members to function well together. Imagine if a project team started off with a series of self-proclamations like:
- “I am here because of my product expertise.” (from Product Development)
- “I am not here to provide input; I am here so that we know where the decisions came from.” (from Marketing)
- “I am here to say ‘No’ so that we put forward solid proposals to senior management.” (from Finance)
- “I am here to reinforce the point that forecasting is impossible.” (from Sales)
- “I am here because I have not been involved before and I have the courage to ask stupid questions.” (from the Intern)
Clarity on roles (with oneself, as well as with others) increases the chance that any conflict can remain productive and task oriented. In the real world, some people’s “roles” may seem more like:
- “I am here to get attention.”
- “I am here because I already have the answer.”
- “I am here so that I can say ‘I told you so’ in about three months.”
It can all sound very much like a wanna-be self-help meeting: “Hello, my name is Chris, and I am here to defend the client's interests.” Without being corny about it, I will suggest that clarity on “our job” and “my job” can help a cross-functional team to fully function. I have found it useful to tell clients to simply state, “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask [for example, ‘is that really the best way to provide value to our clients?’ or some other potentially challenging question.]”
Many of the lines between “helpful" and "hurtful” or between “team-oriented" and "affected” come down to relationship equity and benefit of the doubt, which needs to be fostered. Assertiveness over your or the group’s role can help to keep you on this side of that line.
“This column is here to provide insight on issues that can create distracting interpersonal noise.”
Chris Irwin works with organizations undergoing change to reduce interpersonal noise in cross-functional and stakeholder communications. He is on faculty at the Schulich School of Business, and teaches in PMAC’s Strategic Supply Chain Management Leadership Program. He blogs on related issues at www.microob.com and can be reached through that website.
News from the Sector's Pillar Associations
Purchasing Management Association of Canada
Call for Papers: Seventh Annual International Symposium on Supply Chain Management, Toronto, October 28 to 30, 2009
Academics and practitioners are invited to contribute to this international symposium by submitting academic papers, white papers and/or presentations. Potential areas of focus include:
- Demand and supply management
- Network design
- Reverse logistics
- SCM software
- Global supply chains
- Third-party logistics
- Performance management
- Risk management
Deadline to submit a 500-word abstract is June 1.
This event is presented by PMAC and the McMaster eBusiness Research Centre (MeRC). Learn more
Export Development Corporation, 2009 Let's Talk Exports Tour
– cities across Canada April 28: Toronto
April 29: Burlington, Vaughan
May 4: Calgary
May 5: Edmonton
May 6: Surrey, Vancouver
May 7: Winnipeg
May 8: Saskatoon
May 13: Quebec City
May 14: Montreal
May 19: St. John's
May 20: Halifax
May 21: Sydney
May 22: Fredericton, Moncton
May 25: Montreal – West Island, Ottawa
May 27: Sudbury
May 28: London
May 29: Sault Ste. Marie
June 5: Drummondville
Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada and Canadian Industrial Transportation Association, Supply Chain Leadership – Raising the Bar
, featuring the Transpo 2009 Exhibition, April 28 and 29, Vaughan, Ont.
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, Half-day International-trade Workshops
April 28: Cargo Insurance (a.m.), Incoterms (p.m.)
April 29: Letters of Credit (a.m.), Risks Forwarders Face (p.m.)
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, Air Dangerous Goods Training
Initial: April 28 to 30; recurrent: April 29 and 30
Montreal (en français)
Initial: April 28 to 30; recurrent: April 29 and 30
Conference Board of Canada, 2009 CSR: Measuring, Managing, and Sustaining Performance
, April 30 and May 1, Toronto, Ont.
NAL Insurance and KRTS Transportation Specialists Inc., Driving for Profit
, May 5, Mississauga, Ont.
McMaster University, Translog 2009
, June 17 and 18, Hamilton, Ont.
Association of International Customs and Border Agencies, 9th Annual Convention
, June 22 and 23, Windsor, Ont.
National Institute of Governmental Purchasing Inc., NIGP Forum 2009
, August 22 to 26, St. Louis, Miss.
The Council's website is a repository of tools and resources for people working in and studying supply chain management. Along with information about the Council itself, you can access:
- CSCSC communication resources
- Sector publications
- Associations/non-profits – supply chain, Canada
- Associations/non-profits – education/human resources, Canada
- Associations – international
- Governments and agencies
- Internet resources
- "Taming That Monster" conference presentations
- Association job banks
- Supply chain-specific search consultants/job banks
- Career videos, websites and other resources
- The Working in Canada website
- The Council's "Careers in the Supply Chain" flow chart
- The Council's supply chain education compendium
- Coming events in the sector – always up to date
Council Project Information – links to current projects:
- Websites of the sector's pillar associations
- Association news
- Perspectives on the sector
- What's new with the Council