Don’t be a talent laggard!

Don’t be a talent laggard!

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Key takeaways

Supply chains demand far broader, more advanced workforce skills than ever before.

Many supply chain businesses are struggling to find the right talent to stay competitive and agile.

Businesses can avoid a global “talent crunch” by either investing in their own talent pipeline, or partnering with supply chain operators who already have.

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A global supply chain talent crunch is coming. Here’s why

Remember how a couple of years ago, the requirements for candidates in the supply chain industry were more or less clearly defined? Basically, companies were looking for talent with a solid knowledge of shipping rates and fuel costs, good skills in inventory - and transportation management systems and sound operational abilities.

And today? Although said competencies remain essential, the demands of the supply chain industry have fundamentally changed. As digitalization and supply chain 4.0 have long since become a reality, today’s ideal employee must have a number of specific qualities in order to tackle the industry’s emerging challenges: The new workforce will need to have data analytics skills to harness big data as well as skills in robotics management, Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Vehicles. In addition, they must have leadership, strategic and innovative thinking and high-level analytics capabilities.

The problem is: The supply chain sector’s talent pool is not keeping up with the new requirements. In fact, the impact of technological evolution – as well as a number of other issues within the industry – has already caused a global talent shortage. Experts are reporting that the demand for supply chain professionals already exceeds supply by a ratio of 6:1 – especially in emerging and developing markets. Others put those numbers even higher. And the situation is likely to get worse. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in logistics are estimated to grow by 26 percent between 2010 and 2020 – an average growth rate nearly twice as fast compared to the 14 percent of all other occupations.

A recent survey conducted by DHL among 350 supply chain and operations professionals in the five major regions of the world found that the factor with the greatest impact on talent shortage is in fact changing professional demands. Other reasons identified by the survey are the common impression of supply chain careers as lacking excitement and career opportunities (the widespread perception is that jobs in this field are not as desirable as those in finance, marketing, sales etc.) and an aging workforce (studies suggest that up to 33 percent of the industry’s current workforce is at or beyond retirement age). Last but not least, companies themselves seem to be part of the problem: One third of the survey’s respondents said that they have taken no steps whatsoever to feed their future talent pipeline.

The supply chain sector’s talent pool is not keeping up with new requirements.

The current situation requires companies to introduce sustainable changes. Those who fail to do so will not be able to cope with the aforementioned challenges. Businesses who aim to succeed in the future need to understand that their supply chains – and the workforce operating them – are essential for their success. It is therefore important to create a professional environment which meets the prerequisites of tomorrow’s supply chain industry. This can be achieved, for example, by providing employees with a clear career roadmap, an adaptive and flexible work environment, and opportunities for professional development such as in-house trainings and certifications. Also, investments in emerging technologies can help secure young and motivated talent.  

The supply chain talent shortage has become a serious global issue. If your company is active in this sector and has not yet taken steps to deal with the problem, you might want to start looking for a partner who can help you mitigate the potentially devastating effects of the crisis. Being the world’s leading logistics company, DHL provides the people, processes, tools and technologies required to digitalize and execute global supply chains. This does not only allow you to focus on your company’s core competences, but also to avoid the need to make large investments in testing and adopting new technologies. Consider that leadership and talent management capabilities have a surprisingly strong correlation with financial performance: A recent Boston Consulting Group study found that companies that excel in talent management, on average, increase their revenues 2.2 times faster than “talent laggards”! 

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