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Archive: October 2015 (Features)

Friday, 23 Oct 2015
Jeffrey Jones

There is a large job market for people with O.R. skills, but at the same time there is a considerable shortage of people with the required skill set.  The OR Society intends to review the recruitment of people into O.R, and the training that the Society can provide. For this purpose, the Society is calling for bids for two charitable projects, on the O.R supply chain, and a strategic review of the Society training programme. The deadline for both is the 30th November.


Understanding the O.R. Supply Chain in the UK

The supply chain for O.R. workers is becoming more complex with less-and-less reliance on the traditional entry route of a Masters in O.R.  Indeed, there are many undergraduate and postgraduate courses which teach at least some elements of O.R.  These courses are provided from a range of disciplinary backgrounds: Business, Management, Mathematics, Economics, Computer Science, and Engineering. Some of these courses are “pure” O.R., some of them have a strong O.R. element such as analytics, operations management, logistics, and supply chain.  Moreover, there are O.R. practitioners who have not taken O.R. courses.

 Given this situation there is a need for academics, practitioners, employers and the O.R. Society to better understand the supply chain for O.R. from school level through to early career employment.  This can then form the basis for determining how to improve the supply of workers into O.R. We are commissioning a piece of work to investigate the O.R. supply chain.  This article is a call for proposals.

For details of what is required, and how to apply click on Supply.


Strategic Training Review

The O.R. Society offers an annual training programme consisting of over 20 courses varying in length from 0.5 – 5 days, covering a range of O.R.-related topics from the introductory to the advanced. The majority of courses are open to members and non-members; some courses are bespoke and delivered in-house for client organisations.

There are regular discussions about ways in which the Society’s training programmes could be improved. This inevitably leads to questions around the marketing of courses, the topics covered, electronic delivery, pricing etc. Underlying this discussion is a general sense that training could be improved for the Society, our members and non-members. The aim of this project is to review the Society’s training offering and to make proposals for how this should evolve. 

 For details of what is required, and how to apply click on Training.

Wednesday, 7 Oct 2015
Jeffrey Jones

By Tony Bendell, chair of the Quality Improvement Section of the Royal Statistical Society

Interestingly, and perhaps ominously, there are members and Fellows within both the Royal Statistical Society and the Operational Research Society who are currently questioning the same thing. Is the writing on the wall for our disciplines, and by implication our professional societies?

The trend for the new generation of data and analytical professionals to not identify as either Statisticians or as Operational Research analysts, does not appear to be abating despite both societies claiming that Big Data and Analytics represent an unprecedented opportunity for their disciplines.

It can well be argued that such mismatches between the perspectives of the established institutions within society and an emerging generation of new professionals is itself an indicator of shifting sands, of emerging practice that will change for ever the status quo that those institutions within society represent. Is this happening? And if it is, is it irreversible?

 If it is, then if we don’t successfully recruit the next generation of professionals into our named disciplines then it is our disciplines that lose out, not only suffering from reduced numbers but also from the competition that the emerging group of professionals then represent. This is a real threat, as by definition they are simultaneously both more relevant to current thinking and needs, and less encumbered by the thinking, traditions and infrastructure of the old disciplines which, if they do not successfully and speedily evolve, must be less relevant today than when they were created.

Learned and professional societies such as ours originated in a world which, compared to the one we inhabit today, was slower and less connected. The societies therefore fulfilled a crucial function, unifying members, providing access to information, peer review and discussion with likeminded professionals, as well as professional status.

But the world has changed. The trend worldwide may be to diminishing attendance at local professional group meetings and a greater use of the worldwide web to provide up to date information. Social media resources are now where we debate, so why should a new generation brought up on transient association with a virtual group on an as-needed  or as -interested basis bother about joining a professional society, especially if the society’s defining discipline no longer directly matches the perceived need in society and within that new generation?

This is something that both societies should debate, and they are together at the RSS at Errol Street in London on 4th December. The meeting is organised jointly by the Quality Improvement Section of the RSS and the ORS, with senior participation from both societies, including the President and Vice President of the OR Society.

This is a topic of great importance to all of us, so reserve the date in your diary now, and come along and have your say.


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