By: Armaan Shah
Exercise equipment. Microchips for iPhones. Christmas trees. Turkeys. By now, it is clear that the world is running low on many popular products. Before delving into the current state of the supply chain, it is necessary to understand its foundations. In the words of Krista Foster, Assistant Professor of IT, Analytics, and Operations at Notre Dame University’s Mendoza College of Business, the supply chain is “something that every business has, and it is essentially a system of groups, people, or resources involved in supplying a product to a consumer.”
From COVID-induced challenges such as labor shortages to transportation issues like the United States’ massive truck driver shortage, the current worldwide supply chain has faltered over the past year and a half. As the demand for essential items has remained steady and the worldwide transportation system continues to lose its strength, Drewry’s shipping index, which is a tool used to measure the cost of containers, is up 291% compared with a year ago (The Guardian, 2021). These costs are impacting the overall cost of doing business. According to Medium, “Toyota, the world's top automaker, is cutting production by 40%. The company announced its annual production would be reduced by 300,000 vehicles…and has been stockpiling components,” due to issues in the supply chain (Medium, 2021).
While the supply chain has transformed the economy at large, businesses on a small scale have had to face a multitude of difficulties. For example, even at the Economic Awareness Council, the parent non-profit of On the Money Magazine, the organization had to wait approximately 6 additional months for the arrival of a large shipment of core educational materials. Director Tracy Frizzell said, “Supply chain issues caused our core youth piggy bank kit for 3,000 youth to be delayed for 6 months. As a result, we have to push back the timeline for financial education activities for many Chicago youth in need.”
Those who are soon to enter the workforce should understand the importance of the supply chain. Because of the array of markets that the supply chain impacts, there are many career paths that stem from it as well. Rohin Shah, a teenager from Chicago, noted, “Over the past few months, I have found it interesting to consider all the processes behind getting a product to a consumer, as well as potential supply chain career paths.”
In conclusion, the suffering supply chain is noteworthy as the distribution of more and more household and personal necessities are backlogged. The diversity of industries and communities that the supply chain impacts may also lead to future job opportunities and career growth in this area.