Olivia Hook, Academic Coordinator, National Association of State Procurement Officials
About a year and a half ago, NASPO began the conversation about broadening their mission to include a higher education component. The idea was to partner with a handful of top-tier universities with programs in supply chain management and similar degree programs to create a pipeline of students to become the next generation of state government workers.
I am new to NASPO, coming on board about 3 weeks ago, but my understanding is that the idea to explore higher education initiatives came out of the professional development committee. Many of AMR’s clients are state government-related, and these associations face many of the same challenges. A huge portion of state government workers (not just in the procurement field) is eligible to retire in the next few years. To combat this issue, NASPO has created relationships with a handful of universities, including Michigan State, Arizona State and Penn State, to name a few. The goal is to connect these academic partners with procurement offices near them to nurture a pipeline of the new generation of state government workers, thus combatting a major workforce issue. However, connecting states and universities alone will not solve this issue. We now face the challenge of helping students understand what procurement is and why they should want to consider a career in the public sector.
Last month, NASPO held its first Academic Forum where we invited a handful of our academic partners, their students, as well as NASPO members who are on the professional development committee to join us at Arizona State University. At this 2-day event, we opened the discussion about how to solve the workforce issue and how to make public procurement attractive to a new generation of workers.
Through discussions at the Academic Forum, we realized that the issue is much bigger than just attracting this new generation. Many millennials do not consider state government as a career. NASPO has set out to change that through partnering with universities, connecting these universities with procurement offices near them, creating internship programs with the states, recruiting at career fairs and much more.
Since we got back from Tempe, we have hit the ground running! Our work is far from done; other higher education initiatives are currently in the works, and we are excited to see what can be done to move procurement as a profession forward.