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Addressing Supply Chain Skill-Set Gap

As supply chains in the high-tech industry continue to increase in complexity and geographical diversity, organizations are demonstrating eagerness in shaping and addressing the skill set needs of their supply chain resources.

Their focus is not limited to Asia alone, though the demand-supply imbalance on that continent lends an added urgency. Indeed, most large high-tech industry organizations are at some stage of creating a cohesive supply chain talent recruitment, training, and retention strategy — one that is in alignment with the organizational business plan and considers the supply chain talent pool as an integral member of the value creation chain.

With globalization and rapidly evolving customer needs, there is recognition that skill sets focused on traditional supply chain functions such as planning, procurement, materials management, transportation, and logistics, must be necessarily complemented with a range of additional skills. New analytical, leadership, collaborative, and other soft skills are critical in the increasingly complex ecosystem.

The correlation between the evolution of the supply chain role, and the additional skills required, is evident in the following few examples.

Getting It Right

Organizations with complex supply networks understand that the need for cross-functional experience and additional skills is not limited to specific, high-potential employees, and instead is a requirement across the majority of their supply chain links. They strive to develop a pool of employees, each with deep competence in a specific supply chain discipline as well as with broad commercial, communication, and learning skills.

Most organizations face two primary challenges as they take up this task: 1) finding new talent entering the workforce that have been exposed both to specific and to broader skills required in supply chain roles; and 2) creating an environment that fosters development of new skills in the existing supply chain.

These challenges are exacerbated for the bulk of the high-tech industry in Asia. Such factors as high demand and competition for talented professionals, cultural and language diversity, and limited supply chain educational infrastructure in emerging economies — each plays a role.

Industry leaders like Avnet are addressing these challenges with a combination of recruitment, training, competence mapping, career path mapping, geographic rotation, and role rotation strategies. Initiatives like SCTAI (Supply Chain Talent Academic Initiative) and SCOR-S are supported by industry, educational institutions, and professional associations, and focus on addressing future competence requirements of supply chain organizations. Executive education and full-time programs in Asia, either in alliance with educational institutions in the West, or otherwise, focus on creating programs to address future competence requirements. Examples include the Asian Institute of Management, CEIBS, CUHK, IIM, and the National University of Singapore.

Leading high-tech industry organizations have created flexible learning environments. They leverage in-house and external resources and make training accessible across their talent pool, anywhere and anytime.

If talent recruitment and retention in your complex and geographically dispersed supply chain is a key initiative for you, I invite you to share your experiences and insights.

12 comments on “Addressing Supply Chain Skill-Set Gap

  1. DataCrunch
    February 10, 2012

    Good points.  With the new and enhanced supply chain collaboration, visibility, and analytics tools and systems available, it is expected that global supply chain analysts, managers, and executives have a broader knowledge base, especially on international compliance and markets.  The old days of working in isolated silos are long gone.

  2. mfbertozzi
    February 11, 2012

    @Lalit: I agree with previuos post from Dave; focusing better on skills as you have mentioned within the editorial, I am wondering you could kindly report some specific examples on educational plans for people working in the sector and adopted by major industries just to moving forward their talent.

  3. Lalit Wadhwa
    February 11, 2012

    Hi @mfbertozzi,

    There's a portion of the article that inadvertently got truncated. That portion presented my perspective on steps being taken by organizations to address the skill-set gap. The truncated portion is reporoduced below:

    “Industry leaders like Avnet are addressing these challenges with a combination of recruitment, training, competency mapping, career path mapping, geographic rotation and role rotation strategies. Initiatives like SCTAI (Supply Chain Talent Academic Initiative) and SCOR-S are supported by industry, educational institutions and professional associations, and focus on addressing future competency requirements of supply chain organizations. Executive Education and full time programs in Asia, either in alliance with educational institutions in the West, or otherwise, focus on creating programs to address future competency requirements. Examples include Asian Institute of Management, CEIBS, CUHK, IIM and National University of Singapore.

     Leading high-tech industry organizations have created flexible learning environments. They leverage in-house and external resources, and make training accessible across their talent pool, anywhere and anytime.”

    Thanks.

  4. mfbertozzi
    February 11, 2012

    That's right Lalit, your reply fits perfectly my question, many thanks. Hope to speak to you soon here at EBN board.

    -Thanks

  5. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 13, 2012

    Hi Lalit–this blog corresponds nicely with a discussion some colleagues and I had last week. Outside of in-house training, do you know where people go to learn about the supply chain? Is there an academic track, or is it hands-on training? IS there such a thing as 'supply chain university?'

  6. Lalit Wadhwa
    February 13, 2012

    Hi Barbara,

    Several schools in the U.S have undergraduate and graduate programs, specifically focused on the supply chain. Many schools also run executive education programs focused on specific aspects of supply chain.

    The U.S News rankings for the top supply chain programs can be viewed  here, while the Gartner rankings can be viewed  here.

    The Cisco-Fudan-Stanford Supply Chain Leadership Institut e is an example of close partnership between industry and academic institutions.

    Thanks.

  7. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 13, 2012

    Lalit–this is great! Thanks for the info!

  8. dalexander
    February 14, 2012

    Lalit,

    The links you posted did not come through. I am very interested in Supply Chain Education. Please repost the links when you are able. I checked out the Fudan Cisco site and found limited information. If you have more specific course information, can you help with that too? Thanks…Douglas

  9. Lalit Wadhwa
    February 14, 2012
  10. Daniel
    February 15, 2012

    Lalit, I think in most of the Asian countries, as a part of curriculum they had introduced international business, trade agreements and treaty's etc. Apart from that now a day the business schools are offering 3/6 month certificate courses also. In business world, I think they recognize the need of trained supply chain professionals with exceptional skill sets.

  11. cjazh
    February 15, 2012

    An option for companies that desire to bring significant learning capability inhouse to support their supply chain roles is Accenture's Supply Chain Academy (http://www.supplychainacademy.com).  Its used by a number of companies with global supply chain workforces.

    It provides a job role, competency-based curricula of several hundred courses, and includes tools to help companies assess their workforce proficiency against competencies, and develop learning plans.

  12. Lalit Wadhwa
    February 15, 2012

    @cjazh  and @ Jacob,

    Thanks for the additional insight.

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