A New International Degree for A New World

Dalein van Zyl

Supply chain management is coming to the fore as the importance of organisational efficiency becomes ever more apparent. But is the South African industry adequately prepared?

The IMM Graduate School of Marketing is answering this challenge with the introduction of a brand-new degree, the Bachelor of Commerce International Supply Chain Management – the first of its kind.

“It is imperative for South Africa to improve its competitiveness,” points out IMM’s CEO, Dalein van Zyl. He notes that although the country was ranked 35 out of 122 countries on the 2006 – 2007 Global Competitiveness Index, the same Index saw the country slide to 49th place out of 140 countries in the 2015 – 2016 ranking – a drop of six percentage points in just ten years.

At the same time, the country’s share of the export market is also declining at a worrying rate.

These disturbing statistics share a common cause: a lack of quality education and strategic insight, which impacts on the country’s ability to produce skilled workers who may help to push us out of the rut.

“This explains the IMM’s decision to introduce the first international degree focusing on supply chain management,” says Stan Muzoka, Senior Lecturer and Module Manager at the IMM. He argues that effective supply chain management is essential for the country’s economic growth, particularly in view of the role it plays in organisational effectiveness, as it provides an overall view of how businesses operate and is a key driver for stakeholder wealth. Describing the discipline as “a philosophy, rather than an organisation functional area,” Muzoka notes that supply chain management is still in its infancy, but is set to explode as organisations globalise and become more complex and customer–focused.

With this in mind, South Africa would do well to bolster its supply chain management skills – particularly as this will help to address gaps in service delivery, caused by a lack of competence in areas such as logistics, transport and procurement. The IMM’s degree has been carefully designed to address such issues, Muzoka says.

The degree may also play a part in resolving the challenges experienced by South Africa’s public sector, as public procurement is one of three streams (majors) that students may choose to focus on. This stream differs from similar qualifications offered by other institutions because it sheds a spotlight on specialised knowledge for government tenders across local, provincial and national government transport and logistics issues, thus broadening the scope beyond public administration. The two other streams on offer include transport and logistics, and procurement. Students are able to select their specialisation from their first year of study. “This is the only degree where students have a choice between three streams,” Muzoka notes.

It is, moreover, the only degree which is internationally recognised, covering material which is included by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport as well as the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply and the UK’s Chartered Institute of Marketing. This makes it comparable to qualifications offered by the UK education system. In fact, the degree is recognised in 130 countries and can be applied across industries using the WiseTech software. This greatly enhances students’ employability.

Muzoka states that students who complete the course are also certified by WiseTech for ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) through an exclusive partnership with the IMM. This qualification is issued by WiseTech Global, a worldwide developer of cloud-based software solutions for the logistics industry.

“Students leave us with a solid understanding of all aspects transport, procurement, logistics and supply chain management, but they also increase their knowledge of business management and marketing and even financial management, international economics and trade – and, of course, they may use this knowledge as a foundation to develop further, should they wish to embark on advanced studies,” adds van Zyl.

He maintains that the benefits for companies, industries and the economy at large are profound, as leaders who have this type of knowledge – and, importantly, can apply it across different organisational functions and industries – have a pronounced ability to steer their organisations and ensure sustainable growth.

Registrations for the IMM Bachelor of Commerce International Supply Chain Management, which launches in January 2020, are now open.