Taking the Doom Out of the Supply Chain Talent Gap

For all of you midlevel supply chain managers with cross-functional expertise, there is some good news: The market can't get enough of you.

The supply chain talent shortage has been called a “perfect storm.” Few topics are shrouded in such doom and gloom. Every report cites doomsday statistics of the impending crisis when, by 2025, 60 million baby boomers will exit the workforce, leaving a gigantic gap, since there are only 40 million new bodies to take their place.

To make matters worse, the retirement exodus is only one factor contributing to the sinking ship. Future supply chain professionals need to master not only the hard analytical skills but also the soft leadership skills fueled by the transition from an industrial economy to an economy grounded in service and information. In numbers, it means only 20% of the workforce will possess the skills required of 60% of all new supply chain jobs.

At the same time, efforts to pump out new recruits are hampered by the lack of business faculty, especially in the fields of supply chain, logistics, and transportation.

But amid all the dire facts, there is opportunity. Has there ever been a better time to be, so to speak, on the other side of the table — a college graduate or a motivated professional looking for a career with upward mobility? What other field of work can offer as much promise to new recruits and current employees as the supply chain industry?

Just as all reports predict a brewing crisis, they also tout talent management as the primary remedy. An organization that can offer its current staff competitive salaries in addition to cross-functional training is much better positioned to meet the challenges of the talent shortage and the evolving nature and demands of the supply chain.

For a self-motivated individual, fresh out of college or in the midst of a corporate climb, this focus on professional development presents a smorgasbord of options. If the organization does not offer enough incentives, individuals will take their talent elsewhere. There will always be another company to welcome them.

Count on this talent pool to swiftly turn down a company that remains stuck on strict functional divisions and favors the old siloed approach to doing business. Many supply chain managers have grown up in such divided organizations themselves, so they have been slow to take appropriate action to retain and train talent, according to a SupplyChainInsights survey, leaving those better prepared with a competitive advantage.

Touting the unlimited opportunities in the supply chain field should be part of turning the tide. Sure, there is a lot of doom, but mainly for those companies that fail to manage and promote their in-house talent.

True? Please discuss.

Related posts:

3 comments on “Taking the Doom Out of the Supply Chain Talent Gap

  1. Ashu001
    September 30, 2014


    This is a very Good and Pertinent Piece that points out how the Coming Demographic Change(especially retirement of Boomers) changes things in the Supply Chain Industry.

    But I have also been reading that because of the Recession,The Boomers are increasingly delaying retirements which ensures that many College Grads are under-employed today.

    Will this trend alleviate the issue you are pointing to here??

    Just wondering.


  2. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    October 2, 2014

    I see many new supply chain programs coming out at the University level, and that gives me hope of minting new supply chainpros. I find myself wondering, though, about what the best way to get poteential students to consider supply chain as a field. It's often ignorance. I supsect the best path forward will be the willingness of supply chain organizations to offer younger folks hands on internships and such so that they will be encouragedt o adopt the field.

  3. nathandavidson
    October 3, 2018

    Is the supply chain talent gap really set to be doomed for good? The sector is really huge and hence requiring a huge talent group to play the different roles. Without an adequate volume of professional workers with the right capacity to serve customers and fulfill orders, the term supply chain cannot even be made into a reality. With the e-commerce market increasing in popularity, it indirectly sets a boost in the overall supply chain sector. When the senior workers bid farewell, it is time for newcomers who are mostly fresh grads to take on the wheel and meet customer demand for good.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.