As more and more companies recognise the importance of supply chain management in ensuring success, the demand for supply chain talent has reached an all-time high. While increasing number of people are earning SCM degrees and certifications with each passing year, the demand still exceeds supply and the gap is likely to increase and businesses world-wide are becoming aware of the increasing gap.
Consider the situation in a developed country like the United States, despite a number of educational institutions and industry associations offering degree courses and training in logistics and supply chain management, organisations still have trouble filling both senior-level supply chain management positions and lower-level jobs.
The talent shortage is being felt across the globe, in almost every region and industry. The problem is particularly acute in developing countries, where companies struggle to find people who possess the right mix of knowledge, of the local market and the necessary supply chain expertise.
The lack of supply chain talent in emerging markets is a major concern not only for local businesses but also for global companies. For the global companies future growth depends on increased sales in developing markets. Those markets, however, cannot grow unless the workforce in those developing countries has mastery over the necessary skills to get goods into the hands of customers. There is no one cause for the deepening shortage of supply chain talent. Instead, the reasons are varied and sometimes tied to local circumstances.
- A part of the problem is simple demographics. As the seniors retire, many companies are finding they don’t have enough experienced managers to replace them. Members of the young generation currently entering the workforce, have been able to fill some of the open entry-level positions, but many companies are finding that their true pain point is a lack of middle managers with the required skills, according to the report “Supply Chain Talent: The Missing Link?” by supply chain analyst Lora Cecere.
- Changing skill set. As experienced leaders retire, companies look for replacements with broader skill sets than them. The increasing importance of technology to the field means that candidates need for both skilled labour positions and otherwise, need more technical and analytical skills. Similarly, companies look for individuals who have skill sets that cut across traditional functional roles such as logistics, procurement and manufacturing. And as supply chain managers take on more strategic roles in their companies, they will need more skills like project management, leadership, communications, and relationship management.
- Cost-cutting measures. The shortage has increased further because of the cost-cutting measures employed by companies during the recent economic downturn. Many companies reduced workforce and cut back on their training and development programmes.
As an effective solution to this problem companies could partner with local educational institutions and organisations to develop and deepen their talent management strategy.