Clarkston Consulting
Skip to content

The Supply Chain Skills Gap: Talent Management to the Rescue

In this blog we routinely discuss the urgency of developing a talent management strategy. In the economy of fifty or sixty years ago, perhaps it was a reasonable strategy to find any “warm body” and place them at their assigned location on the assembly line. In many cases, the delta from “warm body” to productive worker was rather small.

But in today’s challenging economy, organizations often find that graduates from university programs still lack the necessary skills to become a productive part of their team. One area where this is a problem is with supply chain skills.

A recent article highlighted a survey from the American Productivity and Quality Center of supply chain professionals. The survey focused on the recruiting and talent management practices of their organizations. Organizations were asked to identify the top areas in which supply chain candidates were prepared. Those skills where candidates were best prepared included: Procurement, Inventory Management, Supplier Management, Transportation and Logistics, and Data/Analytics Capabilities. However, on a five point scale with 1 being “not at all prepared” and 5 being “very well prepared” these ratings were 3.59, 3.38, 3.32, 3.25, and 3.24.

Bear in mind, these were the five areas where candidates were best prepared, and yet the highest rating (Procurement) was only a 3.59 on a five point scale. Clearly, organizations are finding that among their supply chain candidates, even in the top five areas of skills, there is substantial room for growth in those skills.

It becomes apparent, then, that organizations must have a talent management strategy to help new entrants to the organization acquire the additional skills required in these core areas. They must identify the talent gap, address it, and provide opportunity for growth and advancement. These are essential ingredients to building and maintaining a talent-based workforce.

But the opportunities also extend to softer skills. When asked which skills were the most important, the following five skills were identified: Business Ethics, Problem Solving, Customer Focus, Decision Making, Teamwork. In other words, while Procurement was rated as the strongest skill for new recruits, the most important skill they really needed was Business Ethics.

The answer again must be a talent management strategy which identifies and assesses gaps in these softer skills, provides training and learning opportunities to advance these skills, and then provide the career opportunities to build and grow these skills in the real world.

Whether the skills are hard or soft, the answer for gaps in supply chain management skills is a well-organized talent management effort. The days when talent management could be an after-thought are clearly behind us.

Talent management to the rescue!

Tags: Organizational Health