Although David Kiger has previously addressed the topic of supply chain management from different points of views, there is something around the topic that often passes unnoticed: there has been an ongoing shortage of supply chain talent despite having seen a lot of developments in this field.
A lot of supply chain professionals lament the fact that the term supply chain maybe fails to accurately convey the hard, dynamic work involved in carrying out the manufacturing, movement and storage processes commonly related with production as a whole. And this is undeniable; the reputation problem has hurt both pride and the businesses in a very tangible way, for companies across the world constantly invest millions of dollars in improving their supply chains on a yearly basis; however, the fact that there are not enough qualified individuals to make sure such investments last and go as far as expected is an authentic concern.
A recent study revealed that CEOs firmly believe they should be doing much more to entice and retain supply chain talent. Similarly, only 40% of executives believe they possess the talent required to deal with today’s competitive and complex supply chain juncture. Nonetheless, this is a major issue. The global supply chain is estimated to move around 25 trillion dollars per year industry and, as depicted in previous articles, it is likely to get even more and more complicated. In accordance with recent estimations, before 2020 the number of available positions in the supply chain will rise by almost 25%. Today, the demand-to-supply ratio of positions to highly qualified individuals is almost seven to one. Surely, in a few years, that could rise, even more, reaching a staggering nine to one. Most of the jobs exist in middle management positions, in which there is an ongoing shortage of 55%.
Under these circumstances, it is not rare to see people and supply chain executives wondering what could have possibly caused such dearth of qualified individuals? At least one part of it can be explained by the rapidly changing worldwide landscape, whereas the overall image is held accountable as well. Leading supply chain executives and lecturers ventured into reaching to the bottom of the issue coming up with a few solutions and tweaks that could help the industry regain its pride—while attracting more qualified professionals.
How can this shortage be explained?
Industry leaders seem to agree upon several plausible and possible causes that can be held accountable for such shortfall:
The industry is expanding just to quickly, much faster than individuals are becoming qualified
Over the past two decades, globalization caused an ease of outsourcing and developed manufacture in multiple countries all around the globe. Today, and even two decades ago, parts are being produced and manufactured across the planet, thusly reducing costs while also increasing the level of complexity. It is undeniable that prior to today’s technological developments and the fourth industrial revolution managing a supply chain was not as hectic as it happens to be today: stock was much cheaper—and was not particularly a consideration—; however, in the past quintil, the industry has faced a radical change in the way individuals, CEOs, companies, and pretty much every supply chain executive understand procurement, transportation and, of course, supply management itself. All of a sudden, firms end up losing money due to poor predictions—which can also be explained by the fact that companies lack qualified people for such matter—.
Most individuals, 20 years ago, decided to try their luck in the world of marketing or finance—actually, things have not changed a lot in this regard—, but never procurement. Thus, it is of high importance to understand that procurement is a key and very important industry where no one seems to have the necessary experience.
The qualifications needed for venturing into supply chain careers are becoming more complex
Many lecturers believe that one big issue behind the talent shortfall is the amount of talent required from each candidate: to be in procurement, people had better be good at procurement, so to speak. Nevertheless, these day and under today’s circumstances—given the pace at which companies have adapted themselves to this rapidly changing world—, it also means that professionals and individuals need to be able to manage all sorts of things, included being able to manage corporate social responsibility and understand complex issues commonly associated with the industry such as trade, taxation and, last but not least, customs. It has definitely become way more complex in comparison with previous decades. And that is why some experts certainly believe this to be the case partly since both the educational system and the world itself have changed at a staggering, hard-to-cope-with pace.
Thus, it is a tough but also very important challenge to face: people willing to try their luck in the supply chain industry need to be dynamic. They need to be able to work long shifts, to travel across the world, etc. It is demanding but also very rewarding.
* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com