Keeping supply chains viable in the future will mean focusing on middle-management talent, according to global supply chain publication EBN. While companies are working hard to recruit college graduates for supply chain jobs, training programs that would move them up to mid-management positions are lacking.
According to a study by Supply Chain Insights, there is currently a 15-percent turnover of employees within the supply chain, and only 23 percent of respondents said their organization had cross-functional training programs for current staff.
One reason for the shortage is that as supply chains become more complex, the talent pool for qualified employees that can take the reigns becomes more shallow. Adding to the challenge is the increase in baby-boomer retirement that has seen experienced employees leaving tough-to-fill positions. The global market is creating a need for supply chain managers in locations where talent is even more scarce.
According to Supply Chain Insights, companies must direct some resources toward training existing employees instead of just hiring new ones. Some mid-level management positions go unfilled for five months. It is difficult to maintain operation levels with key positions vacant for such a long period. Because going to the market for mid-management employees takes time, an in-house candidate pool is beneficial.
Supply Chain Must be Viewed Differently to Make Improvements
Because of the functional view of supply chains, many have been divided into silos where mastery of a particular position is paramount. However, mid-management positions require individuals with skills in multiple areas. Getting employees on a path that can give them experience in multiple disciplines early on in their careers will move them up within the company. Organizations also must make sure there are incentives for employees to stay and seek new positions.
Employees Should Train on New Technology Early On
While older employees retire, there is an opportunity to promote young talent with a better understanding of new supply chain technology. As companies attempt to break down supply chain silos, data collection software can help managers view operations as a whole instead of only within specific departments. Managers should understand how these technologies can affect all aspects of the company's operations, from inventory to logistics. New talent with an eye for changing supply chain operations can help companies stay up to date on the global market of the 21st century.