Why the Council's Occupational Standards are a Must-Have in Your HR Toolkit
By Heather MacNeil
It is no secret that the supply chain sector is one of the fastest-growth areas of the economy, which means that human resources professionals are being tested at each and every turn with increased hiring requirements, heightened needs for training and performance-management programs and myriad career-planning discussions that affect staffing at all levels, from entry level up to senior executive. It comes as no surprise then that one of the Council’s top priorities this past year was the development of national occupational standards.
So what are occupational standards and why are they a “must-have” in an HR toolkit? Occupational standards describe what a person in a particular occupation must know and be able to do, and generally comprise three sections: skills and abilities, core knowledge, and standards of ethical practice. No matter how big or small your company is or whether it is relatively new or has been around for a few years, building, growing and maintaining a talented pool of supply chain professionals is a challenge for this sector, both locally and globally. And so it is essential that we address this challenge as a sector.
From the get-go in developing the standards, it was believed that they would provide a basis for the development and refinement of a number of human resources procedures and documents, including drafting job descriptions, benchmarking performance, and developing training programs and progression plans, to name a few. A number of pilots with our stakeholder groups validate these assumptions, and the standards are now ready to provide the help that the Canadian supply chain marketplace so desperately needs in the area of human resources.
Take job descriptions for example. Our pilot with Manitoulin Group of Companies’ warehousing division, Multimodal Logistics Systems Inc., proved that the detail provided in the occupational standards – from the high level right down to the tasks involved – was of great support in crafting succinct and well-defined job descriptions Well-written job descriptions help employees understand what their jobs are all about and help managers hire the right people with the right skills for particular jobs. And, for later in the cycle, job descriptions guide career-tracking programs, so that both the employee and the manager can agree on the most-suitable next role and determine what gaps exist that require additional training. Job descriptions, in and of themselves, are an essential part of supply chain companies’ HR core programs, but you can see how they, in turn, drive other programs, such as hiring practices and performance management, not to mention new-hire and ongoing training.
For more information or to view the standards, visit the CSCSC website.
Heather MacNeil is Project Manager of the Council's Occupational Standards Project.
New Occupational Standards for Material Handlers
Through its Material Handler Skills Upgrading project, the Council has developed occupational standards for five material-handling functions:
Interested in Occupational Standards?
The Council is in the early stages of its phase II Occupational Standards project, and needs volunteers for the project working group. Members of the group will work with Council staff and the Canadian Standards Association, the consultant on this project, to write up to 15 occupational standards for supply chain roles.
New Logo for Use in Identifying Accredited Programs through Council's NAP
Education providers with programs or courses accredited by the Council through the National Accreditation Program now have a stamp-of-approval logo to identify their accredited offerings.
If you're trying to decide on an educational path, look for the Council's stamp on programs or courses of interest to you. The stamp highlights offerings that are proven to be excellent in quality, and might help you choose from among several options.
Council Products and Programs Available to Supply Chain Stakeholders
- LMI Toolkit: Access current and historical supply chain employment data, national and international labour market information, and a current picture of labour market demand in the sector across Canada
- Career Focus Program: Get wage-subsidy funds for eligible new hires
- Virtual HR Department: Download HR-focused information, tools, templates, forms, policy samples and more
Update: MicroSkills Supply Chain Awareness Program for Employment (SCAPE)
Since 2008, CSCSC has been advisory and sector liaison partner in MicroSkills’ SCAPE program, which aims to increase the participation of internationally trained individuals (ITIs) in the supply chain sector.
Over the past two years, the project has successfully reached 155 ITIs with information about the supply chain sector in Canada, by way of MicroSkills’ information sessions and the sector overview that is presented regularly by CSCSC at MicroSkills’ sites in Etobicoke, North York and Brampton.
The SCAPE project has forged strong relationships with Humber College, APICS, PMAC and CIFFA, each of which has adapted and delivered one module of their certification program to project participants – 101 newcomers to Canada have benefited from this training update, along with numerous networking and mentoring opportunities and work place tours organized by CSCSC, sector associations and employers.
Members of the project’s advisory committee have also provided links to employers and employment opportunities for our participants. Over 32 employers have participated in the delivery of the program, with workshops, tours, job fairs, etc. To date, 60 project participants have completed the program and are employed in the supply chain sector in jobs that are in their occupation or closely related.
The SCAPE project is funded by the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada through Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Showing the Supply Chain in Action: Another Success on Take Our Kids to Work Day
Supply Chain Management (SCM) Inc., based in Mississauga, Ont., has been an active participant in the Take Our Kids to Work Day program – an annual event for grade 9 students across Canada – since 2004. This year, SCM extended its program, which had always been open to children of the company's staff, to also include several students from Lakeshore Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke, with which the CSCSC is partnered through the Education/Sector Council Partnership Program
. [SCM has been very supportive of the work being done at LCI through this program.]
SCM believes that investment in a program like Take Our Kids to Work Day can provide students with a better understanding of the connections between what they are learning in the classroom and the essential skills needed in the workplace. SCM also sees the value in raising awareness about the exciting career opportunities within the supply chain and logistics industry, as well as providing an opportunity for career discussions based on a shared workplace experience between parents and their children.
The program is managed by Susan Walsh, SCM's HR Manager, along with a number of other company volunteers. The students participate in a full-day program covering a broad range of activities, including life skills such as the value of team work, effective communication, health and safety awareness and positive attitude. This learning can be applied at home, in school, in the workplace or in life in general. In addition, the students get to tour the distribution centre and hear from guest speakers, such as SCM's President and Senior Director of Operations.
Traditionally, SCM finishes off the program with one of the highlights of the day. Since the event falls just after Halloween, staff creates a haunted house through which the students walk...if they dare. Not only the students love it; the staff team members do, too!
Read how another company participates in Take Our Kids to Work Day in the Council's October newsletter.
When It's Broken, Let's Fix It
By Chris Irwin, MBA
Late in the semester there's a degree of urgency for those involved in education on either side of the chalk. As with the winding down of a sports season, things count more and time runs short.
Not surprisingly, the final project for my negotiations class entails analyzing a real situation to assess the strategies and implementation tactics of the parties involved. Looking at situations that are currently unfolding provides timeliness and relevance, and my classes have been blessed over the last while:
- Fall 2008 – York University unionized-workers strike
Note: Neither Schulich (business school) nor Osgoode Hall (law school) were affected directly by the strike. All appreciated the irony of crossing a picket line to teach a class on negotiating.
- Winter 2009 – Auto-sector woes, which began in the fall, continue
Note: There is also a nice little transit strike in Ottawa.
- Summer 2009 – Toronto City outdoor- and daycare-workers strike
Note: Toronto City Councillor Karen Stintz shared perspectives on this in class this semester.
- Fall 2009 – Cable companies versus TV broadcasters
Note: Just in time for Fall 2009, CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein chastised the disputing cable and broadcasting companies with:
"You need each other; I don't understand why you can't negotiate."
A final report gift, just in time for Christmas…
The thread through all of these situations appears to be “reacting to a business model that’s under strain.” Whether it's wage dissatisfaction or margin envy, those involved – who really do need each other – would do well to hear von Finckenstein’s words.
Complex situations? Requiring new approaches? This will ring familiar to those working in supply chain. Collaboration is easy to talk about and, theoretically, we can see the opportunity for creating/protecting value. The work comes in effectively executing on that mindset to address real challenges.
The competitive reaction appears to be automatic, especially if we are taking away things that people have “always had” (e.g., banked sick days) or have come to expect (year-on-year wage increases of three to five percent). The rightful target for competitive behaviour is often outside this relationship.
This means that even though it makes perfect sense to implement your cost-saving initiative, if someone is losing something, expect some pushback. Directing energy toward understanding the problem is the most-effective interaction, particularly if the problem can be positioned as a shared problem. No situation is too small for a strategic look, which could start conversations toward some fixes.
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 in Humber’s Supply Chain program. He also teaches in PMAC’s Strategic Supply Chain Management Leadership Program. He blogs on related issues at www.MicroOB.com (Micro Organizational Behaviour) and can be reached through that website.
WANTED: Employers That are Leaders and Innovators in Hiring and Integrating Skilled Immigrants
The Immigrant Success (IS) Awards of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) recognize leadership and innovation in recruiting and retaining skilled immigrants. These awards, for organizations in the Greater Toronto Area, provide a great opportunity for leading organizations to be recognized publicly for understanding and leveraging the talent that skilled immigrants bring to the workplace.
There are four award categories: three for innovative employers, one for a leading human resources professional. To be considered, simply provide information about your skilled-immigrant experience in an online nomination form, available at www.isawards.ca
, before Friday, December 11.
Winners will receive public recognition at TRIEC's annual IS Awards ceremony, as well as increased profile through the IS Awards website and TRIEC marketing. Past winners have been profiled in leading publications including Canadian Business, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Canadian HR Reporter, Business News Network, Financial Times, and CBC Television and Radio.
H1N1 in the Workplace: A Free E-learning Program
"H1N1 in the Workplace
," a free online program provided by CoursePark, could help your organization assess and improve its level of readiness for H1N1 flu. The course includes a brief pre-test and post-test, and can usually be finished in less than 20 minutes. It is non-technical, and covers the key points without overwhelming busy workers.
There are two courses: one for managers, the other for employees. A detailed tracking system lets managers see which workers complete the course. Companies can measure the level of learning being done and target vulnerabilities.
News from the Sector's Pillar Associations
Highlights of 2009 CITT-NBF Canadian Transportation & Logistics Survey
National Bank Financial (NBF) and CITT recently conducted a brief survey to gauge freight-transportation-spending trends and the current state of freight markets in Canada. Survey results indicate that:
- Transportation service providers, such as rails and especially trucks, are uncertain about the rebound in industry volumes next year, while shippers appear to be more confident that the industry may witness an improvement in 2010, calling for median volume growth of eight percent.
- Both providers and shippers appear to be more certain about core pricing growth (excluding fuel surcharge), projecting a flat-to-modest improvement next year.
- While the rails and less-than-truckload carriers are managing their capacities fairly well, truckload carriers are facing more difficult conditions, given overcapacity and low barriers to entry. As a result, the rails are expected to retain the greatest pricing power upon recovery. Shippers do not anticipate changing their current transportation-spend allocation.
- The industry should emerge from the downturn next year with relatively modest volume and pricing growth. The rails appear to be particularly well positioned for the recovery; they're holding or improving operating ratios in the current downturn.
For more-detailed results of the survey, click here
New Chair of the Board
Andrew Dixon, CITT, is the new Chair of CITT's Board for 2009-2010. Mr. Dixon was elected at the association's 51st AGM on November 7. He replaces outgoing Chair Patrick Bohan, CITT.
Since 2004, Mr. Dixon has been the Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, for the Saint John Port Authority. He has been actively involved with CITT for several years, serving most recently as Vice Chair of Administration on the Board of Directors.
Purchasing Management Association of Canada
Two New Awards to Recognize Visionary Supply Chain Leaders
PMAC has created two new Awards of Distinction to recognize innovative leadership in the field of strategic supply chain management:
- Outstanding Achievement Award – to be presented annually to an individual PMAC member who is a proven innovator and leader in supply chain management.
- Supply Chain Excellence Award – to be presented annually to an organization that has used innovative strategic supply chain management to enhance its competitive advantage.
Award winners will be announced and honoured at the Board Chair Gala on June 11, 2010 during the PMAC National Conference in Regina. The nomination deadline for all awards is December 31, 2009.
For additional information regarding PMAC’s Awards of Distinction and to submit a nomination, visit www.pmac.ca/awards
Supply Chain Salary Survey Shows that Salaries are Holding Up
Supply chain salaries are faring better than expected through the economic downturn. The 2009 PMAC/Purchasingb2b/MM&D Salary Survey, sponsored by MERX, revealed an average salary of $78,100, compared with $76,430 in 2008.
Though results vary by industry, more than half (56 per cent) of respondents reported a salary increase this year. The average pay hike was 3.1 per cent.
The survey, conducted in July 2009, involved 1,929 supply chain practitioners from the membership of PMAC and the circulation lists of Purchasingb2b and MM&D magazines.
In a trend repeated every year, there’s a direct correlation between professional designations and higher salaries. Holders of the C.P.P. (Certified Professional Purchaser) designation, for example, earn an average of $89,300, compared with $73,450 for non-holders.
Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Public Information Centres
to review and comment on the transportation alternatives under consideration in the Niagara to GTA corridor, December 1, Burlington, Ont.
December 7: Calgary, Alta.
December 8: Edmonton, Alta.
Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada – B.C. Chapter, Holiday Networking 2009
, December 8, Burnaby, B.C.
December 10: Quebec
January 27: Halifax
February 23: Calgary
March 24: Vancouver
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association – Western Region, Christmas Lunch (RSVP by December 3), Madeleine Kersey
or Travis Linfoot
, December 10, Richmond, B.C.
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transportation – Ottawa Chapter, Rail Service Review
, December 17, Ottawa, Ont.