The Importance of Supply Chain Education in a Post-COVID World
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in demand for supply chain education in higher education. The disruptions experienced during the crisis exposed vulnerabilities in global supply networks, highlighting the need for skilled professionals who can navigate complexities effectively. Universities have responded by expanding their supply chain programs, attracting students seeking career opportunities in this field. The rise of e-commerce, globalisation, and sustainability concerns has further emphasised the importance of supply chain education. However, more than producing core supply chain professionals is needed due to recent governmental policies on NetZero and rapidly increasing concerns over climate change. Universities need to incorporate the concept of Scope 3 emissions in their curriculum to make future-ready entrepreneurs and professionals. By educating students about Scope 3 emissions, universities will enable them to create environmentally responsible supply chains. The transformation of the global business landscape and the pressing need for resilient supply chains make supply chain education vital for future professionals. Higher education institutions are crucial in shaping individuals who can drive resilient and sustainable supply chains globally.
Universities and grand challenges facing humankind
Universities have a long history of addressing significant challenges facing humanity through research, education, and innovation. They have played a vital role in finding solutions to crises, from developing new technologies during World Wars to contributing to the civil rights movement. The ground-breaking research and development in the fight against HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 are other examples where universities played a pivotal role in serving humanity. With the ongoing climate emergency, universities are once again being called upon to lead the way in addressing this existential challenge. This article highlights how universities can create NetZero-enabled businesses that embed supply chain emissions in their NetZero plans.
Moving towards NetZero emissions
It is crucial to move towards NetZero emissions to combat climate change, and higher education can play a significant role in preparing students for this challenge. Efficient and effective supply chains are essential for businesses’ success and growth, and it is crucial to incorporate supply chain emissions into their NetZero plans. In addition, to break the cycle of retrofitting businesses to become NetZero-enabled, it is essential to encourage the development of new companies born with a NetZero business model that includes Scope 3 emissions. Higher education, particularly in supply chain and logistics education, can play a vital role in enabling aspiring entrepreneurs to create sustainable businesses right from the start.
A significant, multi-stage study involving a group of aspiring entrepreneurs from five top universities in the UK is underway. The study examines how universities can better prepare young entrepreneurs to combat climate change. Specifically, it focuses on fostering the creation of businesses with supply chain emissions (Scope 3) included in their NetZero plans. The study has already produced some noteworthy preliminary suggestions that include but are not limited to encouraging universities to prioritise educational initiatives that raise awareness about NetZero and supply chain emissions and promote sustainability programs. There is a need for better collaboration and coordination among university resources to ensure students receive a holistic education on sustainable practices. For example, students should have hands-on knowledge of digital tools to track and monitor supply chain emissions. Additionally, universities should offer additional activities beyond traditional classroom learning to educate students about supply chain emissions, such as networking and mentoring opportunities with industry experts and successful entrepreneurs.
Higher education and NetZero-enabled supply chains
Higher education must prioritise sustainability education, particularly in supply chain and logistics, to equip young entrepreneurs with the necessary knowledge and skills to create NetZero-enabled businesses. Statistics from the Global Carbon Project revealed that supply chain emissions account for approximately 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, emphasising the critical role of supply chain management in addressing climate change. Moreover, a study by the World Economic Forum found that companies with sustainable supply chains outperformed their peers financially by 15%.
To address these challenges, universities should advance initiatives encouraging collaboration, coordination, and hands-on learning with digital tools. Research conducted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education shows that universities integrating sustainability education into their curriculum experienced a 20% increase in student engagement and retention. In addition, by embedding knowledge related to supply chain emissions, universities can ensure that students are equipped to create businesses with supply chain emissions included in their NetZero plans right from the start. This proactive approach reduces the need for costly retrofitting and positions businesses for long-term success in a sustainable future. Higher education institutions are critical in shaping a sustainable future by preparing students to create environmentally responsible businesses and supply chains.
About the Authors
Dr. Syed Yaqzan, BPP University
Dr. Syed Yaqzan is passionate about sustainability and NetZero emissions. His expertise lies in guiding businesses to achieve NetZero emissions while driving growth. He advises executives and SME owners on carbon reduction plans aligned with their business models. Clients range from SMEs to large FTSE-100 companies in the construction, auto, pharma, energy, and public sectors.
Dr. Muhammad Azmat, Aston University
Dr. Muhammad Azmat is Assistant Professor in Logistics and Supply Chain Management at Aston University. He specialises in disruptive technologies like Blockchain, IoT, Drones, and Autonomous Vehicles. He collaborates with industry and academia to bridge the gap between tech readiness and consumer perspectives and provides insightful recommendations for harnessing these advancements in commercial and humanitarian contexts. Dr. Azmat has worked with esteemed commercial, not-for-profit, and governmental bodies in UK, Europe, and beyond.