CSCSC e-Newsletter

June 30, 2009

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Council News

Putting the Council's Occupational Standards to Work
After much work and effort from many, we can proudly boast the completion of the first 15 of the supply chain sector's National Occupational Standards (NOS). In and of themselves, they are an impressive body of work, but the question remains, “So now what?” In an effort to answer this question – and in the process develop compelling, tried-and-true examples of just how they can support both small and large, new and mature supply chain companies with their human resources strategies and implementation plans – the Council decided it was timely to pilot the NOS in the Canadian supply chain marketplace.
Although we had a number of possible applications for the occupational standards in mind – job descriptions and recruitment, career pathing and employee learning plans to name just a few – we really needed to ‘test the waters,' and Multimodal Logistic Systems Ltd., the warehousing division of Manitoulin Group of Companies, stepped up to help us with our pilot. After assessing the company's current state and future needs, all participants agreed that job descriptions were the best place to begin our NOS pilot.
Working with employees in various roles, as well as their direct managers and General Manager Pat Carroll, we were able to craft up-to-date job descriptions for all positions in Multimodal's warehouse operation – 13 in all – using the occupational standards as the basis for the content and format of the documents. According to Pat, “Our existing job descriptions, while very detailed, did not really capture the essence of the job requirements. They covered the duties that would be required on a daily basis, but didn't really describe what the job was.” By using the occupational standards, he adds, “We now have job descriptions that describe the job overall, as well as the tasks involved, which will help us hire the right people with the right skills and develop people in their current positions, and will be an excellent tool for employee appraisals.” Multimodal and Manitoulin can see other applications for the NOS, and have already started looking at using them as they review and develop employee training plans.

Next, we moved onto Centric Retail Logistics Inc. Centric opened its operation in February of this year and consequently is still developing and fine-tuning many of its HR programs and practices. Management saw an immediate use for the NOS in enhancing the company's telephone prescreen recruitment process. By adding a few critical questions to the prescreen process to probe a candidate’s ability to, for example, work an 11-1/2 hour shift, to bend, lift and climb, and to work in extreme temperatures, HR is now able to assemble a better pool of candidates, people who are appropriately matched to job specifications. This, in turn, has improved the quality of the face-to-face interviews that follow, which has reduced the time and effort required of both the HR department and the hiring manager. Management also suspects that better hiring will increase employee job satisfaction and reduce turnover in the long term. In addition, HR is finding the standards useful in its development and implementation of performance-assessment documentation and processes. “The detail found in the National Occupational Standards documents has been a vital resource in improving Centric’s prescreening interview guide and skill-development analysis... [and will] enhance our current business practices,” says Leona McLinden, Centric's Manager of Human Resources.

Both Multimodal and Centric have confirmed what the Council believes: that the supply chain National Occupational Standards are a critical and trustworthy component of an HR toolkit, and that they will become a tool of choice for your human resources needs. For more information or to view the OS, visit the Council's website at

Key Performance Indicators: Not Just a Supply Chain Metric!
The measurement of outcomes and impact on business process is as important in human resources as it is in broader supply chain applications. If you manage people in a smaller organization without a great deal of capability for implementing human resources practice within your firm, the Council's Virtual Human Resources Department (VHRD) may be the best resource for you.
This subscription-based resource has easy-to-use tools, including complete step-by-step guides and forms for developing, implementing and documenting your own “customized” performance-appraisal system. The VHRD includes supply chain-specific content and was developed with input from HR professionals in our sector. Access the two complimentary sections, subscribe to a section that meets your needs, or purchase a full subscription now!

Launch of Employer's Roadmap: Hiring and Retaining Internationally Trained Workers

On June 16 in Ottawa, The Alliance of Sector Councils (TASC) and the Foreign Credentials Referral Office at Citizenship and Immigration Canada held the Stakeholders Forum on Integration and Retention Strategies for Internationally Trained Workers, at which the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, launched The Employer's Roadmap: Hiring and Retaining Internationally Trained Workers.
The Roadmap is a practical resource for anyone involved in hiring in small and medium-sized enterprises, including business owners, human resources professionals, recruiters and managers. The Roadmap was prepared by TASC last year under the guidance of a broad range of stakeholders, including the TASC Working Group on Immigration and Foreign Credential Recognition (FCR), for the Foreign Credentials Referral Office.
In launching the Roadmap, Minister Kenney noted that Canada maintains "the highest relative level of immigration of any major developed country in the world, [which] presents both tremendous opportunities obviously, but also certain challenges." He continued:
"We want to ensure that newcomers with professional and technical expertise can enter the circle of prosperity in our economy and are rapidly integrated into our society and don’t stay on the sidelines. We don’t want a country whose immigration program leads to the kind of social exclusion and parallel communities we see in some other developed countries."
Declining relative economic outcomes for newcomers over the past two decades are cause for concern, said Mr. Kenney, and central to this problem is the issue of recognition of credentials of foreign-trained professionals.
While most other developed countries have announced and implemented cuts in 2009 in their planned levels of immigration, Canada has done the opposite. According to Mr. Kenney,
"We are the only developed country of which I’m familiar that is maintaining our planned targets for immigration in 2009 [although it may be] counterintuitive from a political point of view. ... We know that, generally speaking, voters in developed economies are less hospitable to newcomers when there are fewer jobs, when there are more difficulties in the labour market, when there is an economic downturn. But we’ve decided to do what ... is in the country’s economic interest in both the mid and long term. We think it would be shortsighted to cut levels, given the downturn, because there continue to be, as many of you in industry will know, labour market shortages in certain industries and in certain regions."
When the economy begins to recover, we will need well-trained newcomers to fill jobs. And, by 2013, 100 percent of our net labour-market growth will be attributable to immigration.
Since the government adopted an action plan in 2008 for faster immigration, the backlog of people in the skilled-worker category has been reduced by 20 percent, which is helping to improve Canada's position in the international competition for economic immigrants. Those people who've applied to immigrate since February of last year have to fall within 38 prioritized occupational categories, so they are more closely linked to labour-market needs (which should improve their outcomes), and they are processed within six to 12 months. For those who applied before the changes were put in place, processing times are also being reduced.
To ensure that newcomers move towards gainful employment, ideally in their own profession, the government created in 2006 the Foreign Credential Referral Office, which works in partnership with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada to help find faster and clearer pathways to credential recognition.
At a recent First Ministers meeting, which brought together federal and provincial leaders, an agreement was established to create a pan-Canadian framework for credential recognition. The first report on that work is to be issued by September of this year.
To help newcomers find good work, tools and resources are now also being provided by the federal government to employers through the Employer’s Roadmap, designed to help employers hire and retain international workers. The Roadmap explains how to assess and select international workers, and how to integrate them into an organization by creating a welcoming environment once they’ve been hired. It also includes a comprehensive list of tools, programs and resources that may be helpful throughout the process.
Learn more about the Employer's Roadmap on the FCRO website.

TASC Trends Analysis on HR Intelligence

The Alliance of Sector Councils is currently developing a trends analysis to answer the question, “What can sector councils tell you about what’s going on in their sectors in these uncertain times?” The results will be of interest to sector councils, governments and the public alike.
Through the analysis, TASC will gather information on key human resource issues on a regular basis from a select number of industry members, with special attention to the recession and recovery. This information will provide timely ground-level intelligence to decision makers and governments so they can design or adjust public policy to help economic recovery.

With the involvement of sector councils, TASC is now identifying a few key issues that will be the focus of questions. So far, most of the identified questions relate to hiring and recalls, layoffs and training. Questionnaires are expected to require less than five minutes to complete, and will not require respondents to provide detailed reports.
Surveys will be done once a month for a year; timing will be reviewed after six months.

Participation of industry members will provide their respective sectors with:
  • An opportunity to see if their challenges are unique or widely faced, especially in those sectors with some similarity;
  • Access to information about laid-off workers in other sectors who could potentially fill employment gaps;
  • Sector-specific information for federal and provincial governments to help them develop policy in government assistance initiatives; and,
  • Access to intelligence on HR trends and issues to better anticipate coming changes and make appropriate plans.
Starting in July, councils will receive survey questions early in the month for distribution to stakeholders. By the middle of the month, survey responses will have been collected and sent to TASC for compilation in a full monthly report.
CSCSC Participation
We here at the Council have taken a different approach to the involvement of our employers in this initiative. Rather than rely on a survey-based approach, the Council has opted to use our new LMI Toolkit portal to gather input from our community. Specifically, the “Perspectives from the Trenches” section of our new Wiki will enable the community to share views on the current state of employment within particular firms. These perspectives will be “mined” by the Council and integrated into the reports presented in the TASC framework outlined above. This format will promote a real-time environment where the pulse of our sector can be monitored…without further surveys or studies.
The Toolkit was reviewed at the June 18 AGM and Board meeting of the Council, and already members have begun sharing their “Perspectives.” Take a look and share your thoughts on the following questions:
  1. What are your successes and challenges in terms of recruitment, retention and workforce adjustments (i.e., layoffs and recalls)?
  2. Is your firm expanding? If so, in what functional areas?
  3. Is your firm contracting? If so, how are you managing?
  4. Are you working with your people to help them develop skills and abilities to meet their workplace challenges? If so, how?
  5. Are the skillsets of your current employees appropriate for today’s business challenges? If so, what are those skillsets that are key in your workplace today? If not, what are the skillsets that are required to move your workforce forward?
  6. In the next quarter, do you plan on growing your workforce (with new hires, recalls or firm acquisitions), shrinking your workforce or keeping your workforce the same?
  7. What policy changes from government would help you and your workforce, and why?

Posts to this Wiki in response to the questions, combined with historical trends in employment by NOC, by industry and by region, and “Labour Market Demand In Your Area” – all accessible through the LMI Toolkit – will help you make labour market information (LMI) become labour market intelligence.

Who Bangs the Drum?

By Chris Irwin, MBA

Last week I participated in a meeting of the CSCSC's board of directors, which brought together an impressive cross-section of stakeholders in Canada's supply chain community. In addition to hearing reports and updates, attendees participated in a group exercise, led by Linda Lucas, to build on information from pan-Canadian information-gathering sessions conducted earlier this year. The exercise involved three steps:

  1. Identify sector-specific priorities (in a given overall segment);
  2. Map actions to further those priorities; and
  3. Assign tasks to people (bonus marks, I think, for time lines).

From my experience doing similar work with clients and groups, all the steps are important, and gauging consensus (rather than happiness) along the way is essential. Success or failure can hinge on the Number 3 point, above; failure is still in play even if Numbers 1 and 2 are clear and garner group support.

My group was focussed on issues under the umbrella of "Attracting and retaining talent in the sector." Among the priorities we determined was getting other business functions to recognize the strategic importance of the supply chain function to make it a desirable area to pursue.
Note: The theme of the undervalued supporting function is rampant. "Supporting" roles never get the respect that they should. Individual egos (and we all have them) are no small part of this. At varying times, I have sat in meetings where those from other supporting functions (PR, Communications, HR and IT, for example) bemoaned the fact that they deserved more respect in the organization.
Having identified this priority, we suggested that the appropriate action is to "bang the drum" about the importance of supply chain. We then dutifully took aim at assigning the task, but concluded that this one – perhaps like others – is everybody's job.
Some specific examples for the rollout might look like this:
  • Leaders in organizations: celebrate successes in supply chain innovation internally (to reinforce the changes) and in other companies (to demonstrate the opportunity).
  • Educational institutions and designation-granting associations: foster pride in being involved in 21st-century value creation (profiling successful graduates), and provide skills to communicate that value to different areas of the organization.
  • Workers in the sector: take every opportunity available (and create opportunity) to share successes with all related functions internally and externally; praise and foster internal collaboration that helps generate innovative solutions.
  • Consultants in team and stakeholder communications: provide awareness as to the importance of selling your functional and individual value; train skills on effectively communicating the value of supply chain to the wider stakeholder group.

Much of this is already underway, I know. According to information gathered in the Council's activities, the work is far from done to further this priority to the extent that the sector needs to realize its potential. Consider yourself tasked, and stay tuned for the timelines.

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 and can be reached through that website.

Website Links


News From the Sector's Pillar Associations

Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association
Certificate Program Registration Is Now Open
Registrations for CIFFA's 2009/2010 education year, which will start in September 2009, are being accepted until August 15. Classroom and e-Learning options are available for its Certificate Programs, recognized and approved by the Federation of International Freight Forwarding Associations (FIATA).
Previously known as Module I, the Certificate Program is an essential-level program, which provides the student with an introduction to freight forwarding. The Advanced Certificate Program (previously Module II) provides enhanced knowledge and skills in the handling of multi-modal, international freight consignments.

Diversity Initiatives Have an Important Role Even in a Slow Economy

In the age of declining stock values, layoffs, corporate collapses and overall economic uncertainty, it is not surprising that some companies are freezing or reducing budgets. Restructuring and downsizing is inevitable in a recession; companies are cutting back and spending is vigilantly monitored. However, even in these volatile times, investing in organizational diversity initiatives and cross-cultural awareness must remain a priority if your company is to maintain its competitive advantage.
Economic changes in Canada and the United States don't mean that companies become isolated from the rest of the world, or that employee relations are thrown out the window. Nor do they mean that companies stop hiring altogether. As long as the market requires organizations to engage with other businesses domestically and internationally, we should all have a keen interest in retaining a talented and diverse workforce. With changing demographics, it is also important to have employees that are representative of your clientele. There is no better time to invest in diversity initiatives than this present moment! Now more than ever is the time to think of "repackaging yourselves" or your product to attract new business.
Included here with the permission of Graybridge Malkam

Work-Sharing a Success

HRSDC deputy minister Janice Charette told a recent Ottawa conference that a large number of businesses are using the Works-Sharing provisions of EI, rather than laying off workers. More than 111,000 workers are currently benefiting from this program. Read about the program in our April newsletter or on the Service Canada website

Successful Fundraiser to Support Students in Logistics Programs

The 10th annual Logistics Institute Calgary golf fundraiser for logistics scholarships was held at D'Arcy Ranch Golf Club on June 1. Fun was had by all!
Students from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Mount Royal College, the Calgary Board of Education and the Catholic School Board will be the recipients of the fundraising proceeds, which this year exceeded $4,000.
Special thanks go to Westcan, Agrium, Trimac, NOVA Chemicals, Agility, Lafarge, Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada, and the Calgary Logistics Council for their generous corporate commitments.

Coming Events

Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council, Focus Group Meeting: Material Handler Skills Upgrading, July 21, Toronto, Ont.
Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council, Focus Group Meeting: Material Handler Skills Upgrading, July 24, Montreal, Que.
Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council, Focus Group Meeting: Material Handler Skills Upgrading, July 30, Halifax, N.S.

National Institute of Governmental Purchasing Inc., NIGP Forum 2009, August 22 to 26, St. Louis, Miss.
HK Systems, 2009 Material Handling & Logistics Conference: Supply Chain Forward, September 13 to 16, Park City, Utah
B.C. Institute of PMAC, 17th  Annual Workshop: Triple Bottom Line - "People, Planet, Profit," September 16 to 18, Nanaimo, B.C.
Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council, Focus Group Meeting: Material Handler Skills Upgrading, September 17, Calgary, Alta.
Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council, Focus Group Meeting: Material Handler Skills Upgrading, September 18, Vancouver, B.C.
Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Annual Global Conference 2009: Global Supply Chain – Chicago Style, September 20 to 23, Chicago, Illinois
International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), 2009 World Congress, September 21 to 25, Geneva, Switzerland
Logility, Connections 2009 – Supply Chain Optimization: Mission Possible, September 23 to 25, Atlanta, Georgia
eyefortransport, 3rd Hi-Tech & Electronics Supply Chain Summit, September 29 and 30, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
APICS – The Association for Operations Management, 2009 International Conference & Expo, October 4 to 6, Toronto, Ont.
Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, October 5 and 6, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Ontario Institute of PMAC, Supply Chain... Capital Decisions, October 23 and 24, Ottawa, Ont.
Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Item-Level RFID – The Road to ROI, October 27 and 28, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Purchasing Management Association of Canada and McMaster eBusiness Research Centre of the DeGroote School of Business, Seventh Annual International Symposium on Supply Chain Management: Managing Global Supply Chain Networks in Uncertain Times, October 28 to 30, Toronto, Ont.

Canadian Public Procurement Council, Forum and Products Expo, October 31 to November 4, Victoria, B.C.
CITT, Reposition 2009, November 4 to 6, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, November 9 and 10, Dallas, Texas
World Trade Group, 7th Annual Supply Chain and Logistics Summit North America, November 16 and 17, Florida
Always up to date in our online event listing!

©2018 Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council
©2018 Conseil canadien sectoriel de la chaîne d'approvisionnement