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.
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.