Whether it’s an article on procurement, third-party logistics or a piece for our Made in America section, a common theme arises. It doesn’t whom we are talking to about the supply chain, the warehouse, third-party logistics or manufacturing, when we ask these professionals what keeps them up at night, their answer is typically a shortage of skilled labor and the talent gap.
Several factors contribute to this:
- There is a lack of emerging talent. Supply chains and manufacturing companies have increased in complexity and size, but the workforce hasn’t grown at the same rate. In fact, some sources state the rate of openings to the pool of workers to choose from might actually be six to one. Baby boomers are retiring, and new workers are not always choosing supply chain, logistics or manufacturing as a career.
- A talent gap exists. Seasoned baby boomers are being replaced by less knowledgeable and experienced workers, who often lack the necessary skill sets to work in such a complex field. “The skillset and capabilities required today are very different than those required in the past,” stresses Nancy Nix, executive director of AWESOME.
- The complexity of the supply chain. Customer demands and needs are increasing, especially in order fulfillment and omnichannel retailing. The supply chain is now global. The increased complexity requires workers with greater technical skills, who are equipped to navigate the nuances of a complicated and demanding environment. “We need professionals who are ‘T-shaped,” says Tania Seary, founding chairman of Procurious. “Those who specialize in one narrow field but have a general understanding of a broader range of business issues.
Some companies are addressing the problem by providing in-house training, mentoring and online training courses to mentor and grow supply chain workers from within.
Other companies such as Ryder System Inc., which is encountering a truck driver shortage, employ recruiters across the country to drum up talent. They also partner with programs designed to get military veterans and women into the field. Others, such as Penske Logistics, have found great success in ramping up advertising efforts to boost awareness of their overall brand, and increasing their social media recruiting efforts.
The good news is that colleges have also increased their supply chain programs, so much so that in this issue we’ve included a comprehensive list of these programs in our Professional Development column on Page 42. Ninety-five programs made this list. With the skilled labor shortage alive and well across the United States, supply chain teams need to be proactive about recruiting, training and education, and these programs not only are a good place to find new hires but they are also excellent opportunities to build the skillsets of existing employees.
The talent shortage may be a real threat to your operation. But by being proactive, as opposed to reactive, you may become the company everyone wants to work for, instead of the one making due with less.