Imagine 2030: Supply Chain Talent

This year’s Supply Chain Insights’ annual global conference (Live Stream: moves to our hometown of Atlanta, a town deep in supply chain history from the crossroads of the early train routes to the hub of many of today’s leading brands, and supply chain services and technology providers. As we welcome the industry thought leaders, practitioners, educators and more, I started to think about the conference’s theme, Imagine 2030, and a topic on the minds of many supply chain executives: talent.

While 2030 may seem like a long way off, it will be here before we know it. In that time, the supply chain will look quite different. In this different world, who will run the supply chains of 2030? How do we help close the talent gap we currently face to ensure the brightest minds are focused on supply chain innovations along with efficiencies to lead us to 2030 and beyond?

Over the last few years I have heard a recurring theme from many supply chain professionals, “there is a war for talent being waged.” One of the key challenges facing organizations today is the changing demographic of candidates for supply chain planners. The new generation of talent may lack the hands-on practical experience of the current planning team, but they bring a wealth of tech-savvy talent to the table. In fact, many are what the industry calls “digital natives” meaning they have grown up with technology since their early childhood. Couple that with more universities offering supply chain degrees and we have the ingredients for a bright supply chain future. We need to put these new resources and “fresh thinking” to work and keep them challenged. That means we need to get them out of spreadsheets and into (problem solving) action.

As with every generation in the workforce, companies have had to adapt and thankfully there are steps that can make your company more attractive to the best talent; talent who can make a substantial impact on both company profitability and customer service.

The global supply chain is a $25+ trillion per year industry. An industry that is quickly growing and becoming more complex. By 2030 that number will have grown exponentially and the volume of jobs available will likely grow equally as much. Currently, there is only one highly qualified candidate for every six job openings. In a few years, that could be as high as one candidate for every nine job openings.

There are a number of reasons for the ever growing shortage of supply chain professionals. First supply chains have become more global and complex requiring a more in-depth blend of business experience, analytic skills, and computer abilities to be effective. Building these capabilities takes time and there just is not enough time to nurture current employees. But what about the future candidate, those in university today or even those that are just entering grade school. What are they going to be like and how do we attract them? Then, how do we retain them?

To get a sense, let’s look at the workforce joining today’s supply chains. They are highly motivated, tech savvy professionals that want to feel like they are making a contribution to the company. They trust technology and are used to mobile and web apps that are easy to use and serve up the information that is relevant to them at that point in time. They don’t want to sift through mounds of data across 10 or 20 spreadsheets. If you place a supply chain professional in their 20s or 30s in front of a screen and ask them to manipulate spreadsheets you are likely going to lose that talent within a year.

At the conference a panel of supply chain leaders will discuss the role of talent in driving innovation. The panel will feature spokespeople from Berry Global, Dow AgroSciences and The Kellogg Company. I look forward to hearing what these three have to share and how they plan to attract and retain the supply chain talent of the future.

Make sure to follow our LinkedIn and Twitter feeds as we post live updates from the conference. We will also publish more in-depth pieces here on our blog on Lora Cecere’s keynote address as well as several of the presentations and panel discussions.

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