Pandemic’s impact continues with area colleges adding, updating supply chain programs – InForum

Pandemic’s impact continues with area colleges adding, updating supply chain programs – InForum

MOORHEAD — As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to reverberate, area colleges are seeing more interest and demand for supply chain management.


Concordia College is introducing a 12-credit data-driven supply chain strategy certificate, and North Dakota State University is bringing in experts to keep curriculum up to date in the fast-changing field.

“In the Fargo-Moorhead area, there are more than 200 job positions open (in supply chain management),” said Marcia Scarpin, a supply chain management expert and assistant professor of management at Concordia.

The growing demand in the job market is one of the reasons Concordia introduced a certification, major and minor pertaining to the global supply chain.

“The supply chain is an umbrella,” Scarpin said.

These programs intend to not only teach students statistical techniques but also teach them skills about leadership, problem-solving and critical thinking.

Scarpin said Concordia’s new programs can apply to many sectors of the job market, preparing students for a variety of jobs. “We created the certificate to be a part of our master’s (degree),” she added.

Students also have the option to apply their 12-credit certificate toward a 35-credit master’s degree in management science and quantitative methods, the first advanced degree offered by

the Offutt School of Business.

Scarpin predicted the supply chain market will grow 11% between 2024 and 2032 and reach $31 billion by 2026. Scarpin said these numbers would not be possible without the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After COVID, our supply chain was very fragmented,” she said.

The pandemic altered the supply chain by prompting changes such as manufacturers moving back to the United States to be closer to their suppliers. The pandemic-induced changes to relationships between companies have stayed consistent, creating the demand in the market.

Scarpin credits the growth of the market to the pandemic, creating a domino effect leading to the introduction of new supply chain management programs.

NDSU also saw an increase in students majoring in supply chain management after COVID-19 hit.

Tim Peterson has been the department chair of transportation, logistics and finance at NDSU for four years and a professor for 16. He said there have been major alterations in the supply chain management program since the pandemic.


“We have 50 already in the major,” Peterson said.

Before COVID-19, Peterson estimated there were 10-15 students with a supply chain management major.

“The pandemic got people’s attention that this is a growing career path,” Peterson said.

The pandemic shifted the supply chain market from efficient to effective, he said, focusing on customer satisfaction. One way the market became effective rather than efficient is by manufacturers moving from offshore production to inshore production.

“What we are seeing is a rethinking by manufacturers,” Peterson said.

Inshore production causes the buyers and suppliers to work more in conjunction with each other, altering the supply chain’s process.

Technology also plays a major role in the supply chain market changes by accelerating the supply chain.

For example, technology limits the time workers previously would have spent locating items because inventory can be easily accessed and recorded with tools like scanners, Peterson said.

With the growth of technology and focus on efficiency, NDSU is looking for new ways to update classroom information as the industry expands.

“The way things are getting transferred into the classroom is by constantly bringing in experts from the field,” Peterson said.

NDSU often brings in experts to relay new information about the field, whereas Concordia is centering its new program around the changes.

“Everyone works with the supply chain because the supply chain works with the supplier and the buyer,” Scarpin said.

Concordia’s first course related to supply chain management will be open for registration in the fall of 2024.

Makayla Anderson is an intern reporter at Forum Communications. She was born and raised in Bismarck, ND and on a farm 20 miles east of Bismarck. Makayla currently attends Concordia College, majoring in English writing with minors in business and journalism. She plans on graduating in spring of 2025. When she is not reporting, she enjoys reading, playing basketball and painting.

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