Addressing Talent Acquisition in Supply Chain Management

Meagan Douglas
Wed, Jul 27, 2016
Companies must look to new recruitment strategies to combat the talent gap in supply chain management.
Companies must look to new recruitment strategies to combat the talent gap in supply chain management.

There are many components that go into an efficient and successful supply chain management strategy. From the appropriate mobile data collection solutions to streamlined logistics processes, every detail matters. That is why it's so important to hire skilled employees for supply chain jobs. However, there is a current shortage of qualified candidates. Fortunately, companies can take steps to acquire talent or optimize the resources already present.

A Breakdown of the Talent Gap
As many supply chain management professionals are well aware, there may not be enough qualified individuals to fill the ever-growing number of jobs. Just about every stage of the supply chain is affected. For example, according to a 2015 report from the American Trucking Associations, the industry saw a shortage of 38,000 truck drivers in 2014. The gap is only expected to grow, signaling a problem for the logistics portion of the supply chain.

Meanwhile, manufacturers face talent gaps, too. According to a 2015 Skills Gap report from Deloitte, approximately 2 million of the 3.5 million jobs in this field will go unfilled simply because there is not enough talent to meet demand. This has significant implications for manufacturing businesses, per survey results from the report. Specifically, CEOs worry that the shortage will inhibit the company's ability to meet customer needs. Additionally, they fear that less talent will make implementing new technologies that could potentially boost productivity more difficult. Clearly, then, companies must take action to address this issue.

Spread Influence Early
A pain point for many companies looking to fill supply chain jobs is timing. By the time they are ready to offer a candidate the job, he or she has already accepted a position elsewhere. Perhaps the best way to counter this problem is to start the talent search early, reaching candidates even before job offers are available.

According to Supply Chain Management Review, many businesses are doing this by working through supply chain undergraduate programs, reaching students as young as college freshmen. A graduate of one such program at the University of Tennessee who now works at PepsiCo, Andrew Currey said this strategy works to build the relationships crucial for successful talent acquisition.

"While we can't offer them a job, we're getting to know them, building our brand presence and building a strong relationship," he told SCMR. "So when they are looking for internships their junior year, we're the first booth they go and talk to."

Companies can practice the same strategy by collaborating with schools that offer distinguished student programs. By this design, universities use GPA and other criteria to identify successful students who can then work closely with prospective employers throughout their college careers. They may participate in anything from job fairs to additional classes. This ensures businesses find the right fit based on both personality and credentials.

Strengthen Internal Training
Looking for outside candidates is only one strategy for combating the talent gap - companies can also benefit from strengthening their internal training processes. This ensures that even if there are not enough people to fill jobs, the current workers have the right knowledge and resources to continue being productive.

In fact, that's the strategy many companies in the automotive industry are taking. According to a white paper from DHL, in an effort to keep employees up to speed with the changing industry and technology updates, the semiconductor manufacturing company Infineon Technologies turned to online learning, using modules to train 1,000 current workers on more than 100 topics.

Meanwhile, the Continental Group has a new program that better controls the career path of especially successful employees. The group plans to spend more time educating and training these individuals, priming them for future logistics positions.

Rework Current Strategies
In order to address talent gaps, a company must analyze what sets itself apart from the competition. Why should a candidate even apply for the job? Restructuring current practices not only has potential to boost productivity and efficiency, but it can also make the business more attractive to future employees.

For example, Supply Chain Brain proposed adjusting the logistics portion of the supply chain by organizing new trucking networks. Specifically, companies can create a revamped system that allows truck drivers to stay local. Shorter drive times between more teams is definitely more appealing than lengthy stints on the road, and this solution may prove to be more efficient overall.

The same concept applies to any facet of the supply chain. For example, warehouses may benefit from implementing mobile data collection solutions. Millennial employees may be less apt to take a job at a company that's still using archaic paper-and-pen methods.

Look to Analytics
Beyond knowing where to look for future employees, businesses must know who to look for. That is, they must be able to answer the question, "What qualifications will I require of the candidate?" According to Supply Chain Digest, analytics is the answer.

After all, data collection plays a key role in every step of the supply chain. Just consider the labyrinth of numbers obtained through barcode scanning, inventory control and warehouse management. Companies need employees who are capable of leveraging data collection tools in a way that streamlines processes and boosts productivity.

Truly, companies need employees who have qualifications that match the complexity of the job, and the rapid adoption and advancement of technology demands higher skill sets.

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