For every talented candidate in the supply chain sector, there are six or more open positions. The crisis is deepening around the world, so what can recruiters do about it? 

In today’s connected world, nearly every business has a complex supply chain. And consumers are demanding more transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain. Supply chain managers are in peak demand, so how do companies recruit the best supply chain managers? 

Reasons for the Supply Chain Talent Shortage

For more than a decade, analysts have been warning that we are on the brink of a supply chain talent crisis. That crisis is here, and the effect is being felt around the world. The key reasons why it is so difficult to fill these roles are:

  • Changing demographics. In 2016, 25-33% of existing supply chain talent was at or over retirement age, creating more shortages in an industry that was already struggling for talent. 
  • Low profile. It is perhaps unfortunate that the term “supply chain” doesn’t have a very compelling sound. Although more and more institutions are creating and offering academic programs for supply chain professionals, the programs don’t attract or engage as many students. Young people don’t understand what supply chain professionals do, and don’t imagine themselves on that career path. 
  • Lack of initiative within the industry. According to a survey completed by DHL, only 25% of participants feel that their company values the supply chain as much as other functional areas, and one-third of surveyed companies have taken no steps to fill their supply chain talent pipeline. 

The Evolving Role of the Supply Chain Manager

High demand and low awareness are big enough challenges to overcome, but the primary challenge that companies face when recruiting supply chain managers is that the role has evolved significantly, and continues to change. Just a few years ago, supply chain management was simply a technical role. Today, supply chain managers need a mix of technical expertise, and interpersonal and professional skills, so that they can create, innovate, and solve problems on a global scale. Supply chain management has become a strategic role, managing supplier relationships, positioning inventory, and bridging multiple departments and disciplines. 

This mix of technical and professional competencies makes these roles incredibly difficult to fill, particularly in FMCG industries where raw materials and end products require traceability, transparency, and integrity at every step of the process. In today’s production pipeline, a supply chain manager needs to have:

  • Technical skills to work with state-of-the-art ERP and IT systems
  • Project management skills including Continuous Improvement, LEAN, and other process improvement systems
  • Strategic and critical thinking skills, with the ability to creatively solve problems
  • Leadership skills to communicate and coordinate large teams
  • Cross-cultural skills to interface with global suppliers, partners, and projects

For professionals with the skills and experience to meet these challenges, there are hundreds of open positions. So how can you recruit them? 

How to Recruit Top Supply Chain Talent

  1. Start training programs. Working with junior supply chain graduates just out of school can be a time-consuming investment, as they lack any relevant experience. But it also gives companies a chance to work with talented young people with the potential to grow into the leadership roles of tomorrow. Building those relationships early helps to overcome present and future talent gaps. 
  2. Build a career path. Lack of clarity around the career path and prospects is a severe drawback for new talent entering the field. In many companies, the fact that supply chain roles and processes change so quickly and so dramatically can make it difficult to create a career path that is attractive for candidates, and yet it is essential. 
  3. Contact grapefrute. At grapefrute, we have an international talent network that helps us quickly recruit and place top supply chain candidates for the food, pharma, cosmetics and ingredients industries. We recognize the unique abilities and contributions of today’s supply chain manager, and can help you find the perfect fit.