With SAP customers and partners struggling to find and train staff on SAP technologies in recent years, there can be a path to increase the quantity and quality of IT teams and leaders well-schooled in SAP. Indeed, I contend now is the perfect time for colleges and universities to gain an advantage with their business and technology students by adding SAP to their curriculum. ASUG members, customers, and the SAP ecosystem stand to benefit.

SAP Business One is the market-leading Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Business One is sold and implemented exclusively by Value Added Resellers (VARs) around the world.

Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, where I have taught for the past 18 years, joined the SAP University Alliance program in 2007, making Saint Vincent the only college or university in the Americas to incorporate SAP Business One into its curriculum.

Anecdotes and the Data

I often hear employers complain about inadequate skills and the lack of SAP-savvy talent in the workforce. A look at the midmarket segment of the 2022 ASUG Pulse of the SAP Customer research, for instance, quantitatively reinforced the challenge:

  • Employee retention was the most important “business factor” for 31% of survey participants, finding skilled talent was noted by 19%
  • 31% of participants said a lack of SAP training challenged their cloud migration, 31% said they were challenged by a lack of in-house knowledge to manage migration.

(For more information on this research, visit https://www.asug.com/insights/highlights-from-the-asug-pulse-of-the-sap-customer-2022-study.)

Adding this innovative program to the curriculum at Saint Vincent College has helped to address this shortfall among young talent. Over 75,000 businesses worldwide use SAP Business One, so training my students in Business One broadens their career opportunities.

The SAP Business One program at Saint Vincent College partners directly with customers and VARs that use SAP Business One, thus linking SAP-trained students directly with these customers and VARs and streamlining these students into the workforce upon graduation. Since 2012, VARs in the United States have partnered with Saint Vincent College to employ interns on their staff and train them on SAP Business One.

Business, Technology, and Ready for Rigor

Prospective students are recruited in the spring of their sophomore year. I look for students who have demonstrated both business and technical proficiency and are willing to complete rigorous coursework. To join the SAP program at Saint Vincent, students must take the Management Information Systems (MIS) course by their sophomore year.

Roughly 20 juniors and graduate students train each school year from July through December on Business One before completing a summer internship at an SAP Business One company. Around 170 students have completed the program at Saint Vincent, 120 of which have had internships and 79 of which currently work full-time in the SAP ecosystem for customers and partners. Students must also be willing to relocate as we partner with businesses across the country.

The training program itself consists of 18 modules, 13 hands-on exercises, and an implementation case study. Additionally, each year students can attend the ASUG Midmarket Conference and SAP Innovation Summit. SAP students can also visit the SAP Pittsburgh office and tour a local Business One customer to better understand how an ERP helps businesses run better. (For more information on this year’s ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Midmarket conference, see https://www.asug.com/events/asug-best-practices-sap-for-midmarket.)

In a typical graduating class at Saint Vincent College, six of the 10 highest-paid business school graduates are students who have completed the SAP Business One program.

The IT field is currently struggling with workforce gaps. Saint Vincent College has been on the cutting edge of closing these gaps for our students by implementing SAP Business One into the curriculum. However, we are just one school. The more schools that add SAP to their curriculum and partner with SAP customers and partners, the more we can help to close these gaps!

Robert Markley, a subject matter expert contributing to SAP-ASUG Conferences, has been a professor at Saint Vincent College (SVC) in Latrobe, PA for 18 years. Markley has taught Management Information Systems (MIS) and Accounting Information Systems (AIS), following years as an ERP consultant. SVC is part of the SAP University Alliances program. SVC has trained 169 students on SAP Business One; taken 122 students to conferences (ASUG and SAP); and landed 120 internships and 79 full-time jobs in the SAP ecosystem--both with customers and partners.

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