Rising Demand for Supply Chain Talent

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A recent ManpowerGroup report shows  worldwide admit that it’s a struggle to find qualified candidates. While this is true across industries and functional domains, the talent shortage appears to be especially dire in supply chain management. This has made talent acquisition in that domain fiercely competitive.

A recent study reports that for every six current supply chain job openings, there is only one qualified candidate. Furthermore, the demand for supply chain talent is expected to increase by as much as 25 percent by the close of this decade. The stark deficit in available human capital will only intensify the war for winners.

Big Contenders Fighting for Supply Chain Talent

Shockwaves rippled across the internet in 2016 when Target named 16-year Amazon veteran Arthur Valdez its new Executive VP and Chief Supply Chain and Logistics Officer. Amazon fought back by filing a non-compete lawsuit, but Valdez ultimately remained with Target.

Target then hired Amazon’s direct-delivery expert Preston Mosier, as well as Apple’s logistics and supply chain strategist Benjamin Cook — an apparently unbridled attempt to build a team for supply chain leadership. Other companies hoping to cash in on supply chain success have also picked off  Amazon talent. Sears three years ago nabbed Amazon fulfillment chief . Instacart lured Amazon operations VP Mike Swartz, who then left Instacart after a brief tenure.

Factors Driving the Supply Chain Talent Shortage

It’s a complex issue, but there are four primary factors contributing to the lack of qualified candidates.

  1. Retiring Baby Boomers
    While the need for supply chain talent is increasing, the number of qualified supply chain managers in the workforce is decreasing. In fact, multiple studies show that for every supply chain professional entering the workforce, two are retiring. This net loss of trained and talented supply chain professionals is creating a viciously competitive acquisition market.
  2. Change in Skillsets
    The role of the supply chain manager has changed dramatically in the last decade. While a deep knowledge of supply chain and how it affects operations, customers, inventory, products and sales is still vital, today’s supply chain talent also must have a keen understanding of analytics, have excellent communication and negotiation skills, maintain a global perspective, and have the ability to lead and collaborate. Finding talent with all these vital skills in no easy feat, not even in an employer’s job market.
  3. Developing Technology
    Supply chain technology, AI, and automation are advancing at record pace. To compete in today’s global economy, businesses must stay abreast of change, and adjust supply chain processes accordingly. Employers are having a hard time finding supply chain talent that can command and evolve with emerging technology.
  4. Retention Woes
    Not only are businesses having trouble on-boarding supply chain talent, they are having a difficult time keeping them. Study after study shows that workers no longer feel a loyalty to stay with the same employer for life. Instead, today’s employees focus more on building a career over a series of stepping stones. They have no problem looking for growth opportunities outside of the company.

Attract Supply Chain Talent

While not all businesses can compete with the likes of Amazon and Target, there are several actions that even small-business employers can undertake to attract qualified supply chain candidates.

  • Compete with compensation — not just salary but benefits. Don’t embark on a wage war. Instead win talent with an attractive competitive package. This will require prioritizing supply chain, where ready-to-go talent is increasingly more coveted.
  • Leverage low-cost, high-value. Build a solid internship program to identify and onboard young talent.