Supply chains have always been present. As far back as we can remember there has always been supply and demand — from the farmers growing crops to the marketplace sellers and eventual end consumers.
Of course, supply chains have advanced since then. Nowadays, many businesses are managing multiple supply chains across numerous countries — a far cry from the humble farmer and his stock. Thankfully, manual management of these supply chains is largely a practice of the past, with advancements in technology, coupled with the growing dominance of digital, revolutionising the supply chain.
Evidently, the digital supply chain — where everything from stock levels to order purchasing is managed via one sophisticated system — offers many benefits to business owners. However, while offering so many benefits and solutions, is our digital dependence actually creating a new problem for businesses to tackle? As we become more dependent on software, are we creating a supply chain talent gap?
There is no denying that the supply chain is growing more and more complex. As it does, the industry demands supply chain workers and management with greater levels of skills and experience. With entry-level skills getting more stringent, what does the industry think about their current talent bank?
In their yearly Supply Chain Talent of the Future survey, research from Deloitte has found that just 38% of respondents have the competencies their supply chain needs today.
The face of supply chains has changed greatly over the past decades, with many anticipating future changes as software systems become increasingly sophisticated. Every professional core competency is expected to become more important in the coming years, according to the survey. Strategic -thinking and problem-solving is set to become the most sought-after competency as software develops (74%), followed by the ability to collaborate across functions (68%) and leading and developing others (66%).
Interestingly, just 43% of executives said their employees’ current strategic thinking and problem-solving skills were excellent or very good. 47% said their current ability to collaborate across functions was excellent or very good, while 41% said the same about leading and developing others.
Clearly, there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to the supply chain talent bank — so how can businesses move with the changes, plug the talent gap and improve the performance of their supply chain overall? Could the answer lie with millennials?
Millennials in manufacturing
Millennial employees are a growing mass. As Baby Boomers creep closer to retirement, there are more opportunities for millennials to enter the supply chain sector.
But how will they help plug the talent gap? Many argue that qualified millennials may have the knowledge of the supply chain, yet they lack the experience required to help in the areas mentioned above. However, millennials bring with them fresh ideas, great potential and sound experiences of digital. This means they are adaptable to the new scenarios created by software developments. Not convinced? Here are a few more reasons why they’d be an asset to your business:
- They can multitask with ease – Millennials have grown accustomed to doing a number of different tasks at once, switching between different devices on average 27 times an hour. This skill is invaluable when transferred into the supply chain, when multi-tasking is a daily requirement.
- Their experience with technology is unrivalled – Millennials have grown up with technology, and their uptake on new technologies and skills is fast. Whether you need them to learn your new business software, suggest new technology to benefit your business or keep you up-to-date with your market, these skills are becoming invaluable.
- Millennials are accustomed to learning quickly – They often have a high level of education (usually to degree level) and are accustomed to taking in new information in large quantities. Taking employees fresh from university into the supply chain sector means two things: they learn about the industry very quickly, and they learn your business practises without bringing in old habits from other workplaces.
One problem that businesses face is retaining millennials. Usually with fewer responsibilities than older workers, millennials are more likely to change roles, which could make retention a problem for businesses. This can, however, be combatted with the right recruitment strategy, working to not only attract new talent but to keep them too. Here are a few suggestions:
- Explain the benefits of working in the supply chain — Shout about the great things you’ve got going on in-house and in your industry — are you working with any influential brands? Do you operate the very latest technology? Does your team work collaboratively via cloud-based platforms? All of these will grab the attention of millennials and entice them to apply for your vacancies.
- Underline the progression opportunities — If they feel stunted, millennials are more likely to leave your business in favour of companies that offer a clear progression plan. Underlining the experience they’ll gain from your business and identifying options to progress and develop their own skills is key to hiring the right people.
- Explain their purpose — Millennial workers want to know that their efforts are making a difference not just to the business but a wider overall cause. A job is more than just a monthly wage to them, so clarity in communications is key to making millennial employees feel valued and purposeful.
- Create a relaxed working environment – With a concern that millennials may move on swiftly from one business to the next, you might want to create a working environment that’s worth staying in. Help to create a relaxed work-life balance through flexible working hours, employee teambuilding activities out of work and a more relaxed attitude to mobile phones and internet use.
As the statistics show, it’s clear that competition for talent will grow in the coming years, as software becomes increasingly advanced. By implementing a recruitment strategy aimed at millennials now, you can welcome the brightest talent to your business and stay ahead of the curve.
If you are looking to improve your supply chain, you might find our recent article useful: 7 strategies for supply chain management success