The Supply Chain Talent Crisis

There are a number of risks in an increasingly global supply chain. But chief among them is the talent crisis.

It may be stating the obvious that the job skills required in today's supply-chain are far more complex than they were 10 or 25 years ago. Today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee — one who understands finance, marketing, economics, even different languages. (See: Infographic: Skills Gap Felt Globally .)

(Indeed I think it's so important I convinced Ruth Glover to contribute her brilliant weekly insights in the Career Engineering blog, and she's sparked some amazing conversations already).

Where do you find that kind of talent? And if you're fortunate enough to find at least the makings of that kind of new supply-chain professional, how do you train those people? What are universities doing today to build the next-generation of supply chain professionals?

Join us Tuesday, April 30 at 8:00 a.m. PDT for our webinar “Averting the Supply-Chain Talent Crisis.” I'll host what promises to be a lively 60-minute conversation involving Gerry Fay, chief global logistics and operational officer with Avnet, Ken Bradley, president of Lytica Inc., and Dr. Arnold Maltz, associate professor and supply chain expert with the W. P. Carey School at Arizona State University.

The insights that these gentlemen will provide should be definitely worth your time, and you'll have a chance to ask them your questions during the webinar next week. Click here to register, and we will see you on Tuesday, April 30.

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37 comments on “The Supply Chain Talent Crisis

  1. _hm
    April 25, 2013

    I would suggest multi faceted design engineer with vast experience and deep interest in supply chain may be very good choice. They may soon become key person in supply chain. This is novel idea worth its consideration.


  2. cookiejar
    April 25, 2013

    As production has moved to Third World countries, so design engineering inevitably follows.  This results in the gradual elimination of pure design engineering jobs here.   We now need people talented in transferring our ideas and customer needs to the Third World. 

    Describing the process as a change in talent requirements masks the true process underway of greatly reducing the total number of engineering jobs in America.

  3. Lavender
    April 25, 2013

    With the competition intensifying, and production automation reducing labors, almost all jobs need versatile talents. 

  4. HM
    April 26, 2013

    talent crisis is something which is very common in across electronics industry. Its difficult to get the right people and retain them.

  5. prabhakar_deosthali
    April 26, 2013

    In my opinion we need some fast track orientation courses for this new breed of supply chain professionals to make them ready for the multi-faceted functional skills required in today's supply chain world.

    Such courses could be organized in house or by the reputed distributor companies .

  6. Ariella
    April 26, 2013

    I agree with prabhakar_doesthali. Likely, the business already has capable people in staff. All they need is some training. 

  7. Ariella
    April 26, 2013

    I agree with prabhakar_doesthali. Likely, the business already has capable people in staff. All they need is some training. 

  8. mfbertozzi
    April 27, 2013

    @p_d: good point and it recurs once again the topic on courses/education as key strategy for moving forward corporations at large.

  9. mfbertozzi
    April 27, 2013

    @Ariella: you are really right, sometimes execs cut costs for training, but it is not a good decision, in general; we have discussed about it also for other topics.

  10. HM
    April 27, 2013

    but just sending executives for training is not enough, management or the leaders have to ensure that the training is relevant and trained people get to work in the same area or technology where they get trained. sometimes just to fill up the organizational goal certain managers send some team members for training and never put them in the same area to work. that way the resource and organization's time is wasted.

  11. mfbertozzi
    April 27, 2013

    @HM: that's right, it was the sense of my post, sorry for eventual mistakes; the training plan needs to involve absolutely any people within the company based on a recognized gap in terms of knowledge, strategy and any other relevant matter for setting up successfully teams which will be potentially able to collect the defined targets.

  12. syedzunair
    April 28, 2013


    I think something on similar lines is already going on. I remember my universities offering courses for executives on weekends to get them at par with the latest developments in the fields of supply chain. If that trend is also adopted by reputable companies the knowledge base will only improve. 

  13. syedzunair
    April 28, 2013


    Training needs analysis & organizing trainings for employees is a key aspect that the best firms pay a lot attention to. Employee retention is linked with employees being satisfied. One way of keeping employees satisfied is to groom them by booking them in tranings. 

  14. syedzunair
    April 28, 2013


    You are correct. Training needs analysis must be done across the board and not for the senior management only. The truth is people at all levels need to polish their skills to work effectively. Usually, the bulk of the work is being done on lower levels while the senior management takes strategic decisions. If you donot book your middle / junior management for trainings they will tend to work inefficiently. Therefore, if the work force needs to move forward I think everyone must be given a chance to improve their skills. 

  15. mfbertozzi
    April 28, 2013

    @syedzunair: excellent point, I completely agree with; while mentioning the retention, you have outlined a very important topic, especially as of today, for the labour market.

  16. hash.era
    April 29, 2013

    @mfbertozzi: How do you see the labor market today mate ? Is it flowing towards the right direction or not ?         

  17. mfbertozzi
    May 2, 2013

    @hash.era: good question, maybe not to easy the answer; imo, it depends from country to country; generally speaking, we are assisting to a really difficult situation in Western, on the other hand it seems other regions as Latam, for instance, are player a key role as emerging market; I believe also Eastern represents and will represent an interesting are from the labour perspective.

  18. syedzunair
    May 6, 2013


    Rentention is important not only for the labor markets but also for the professional jobs. The cost of training an employee is very great and thus retention makes sense otherwise you are wasting money on trainings. 

  19. mfbertozzi
    May 7, 2013

    @syedzunair: great analysis, I totally agree with and in my opinion it is important to encourage exactly that approach within companies.

  20. hash.era
    May 7, 2013

    @mfbertozzi: True but I feel everyone is suffering out of this. Things are improving a bit but not at a great speed or pace. I think it will take some more time to settle down.     

  21. mfbertozzi
    May 7, 2013

    @hash.era: well, you have mentioned another good point; I think so, no doubts; on the other hand, it seems positive results have been achieved in the industry market and investments in training and education still remain one of the most important keys for going ahead this way. Anyway you are right: probably, it still takes time.

  22. syedzunair
    May 8, 2013

    Thanks, mfbertozzi. 

    Lets hope that firms are able to do exactly that and prosper. At times even the simplest of things get missed and result in long term setbacks. 

  23. mfbertozzi
    May 8, 2013

    @syedzunair: well, it is a really wise perspective; we have got, also recently, some good examples; it seems one of the reason for RIM successfully recovery is exactly new investments in research and then education.

  24. syedzunair
    May 9, 2013

    Research like you said plays a very important role not only in reviving a brand but also in ensuring its growth. One thing I would like to add here is that with the research and technical expertise a brand also needs to analyze the market. Therefore, market analysis is required in order to effectively market the offering. 

  25. mfbertozzi
    May 11, 2013

    Well, it is another key point to discuss, no doubts. Really often in the past it happened people devoted to sales have overestimated the market's capability. It is a risk. Right now, I believe a prudent analysis could help companies in their recovery path. I am convinced this is one of new attitude put in place by RIM recently a one of the reason of their new success achieved.

  26. hash.era
    May 14, 2013

    @mfbertozzi: Yes since only time will decide the experience in using or getting used to work routine. Also training does play a major role if it’s being done properly and on a timely manner.

  27. syedzunair
    May 19, 2013

    Yes, people have overestimated sales and that resulted in a loss for the manufacturer. The thing about estimation is to use models that are really close to the kind of business a company is in. Usually, the data set also determines the kind of results that are achieved. Data relevancy is a key factor in determining estimates. 

  28. syedzunair
    May 19, 2013

    Time does play an important role in learning but without the yearning to learn even time proves to be useless. A person has to be dedicated towards the learning process and only then he may be able to learn & implement his knowledge. 

  29. mfbertozzi
    May 19, 2013

    @hash.era: well, I agree on that; within each one company, training as to act as a philosophy and it makes sense if there is a good plan from now to the future; otherwise, really often, training doesn't mean that, but only a scheduled session for limited and selected people.

  30. mfbertozzi
    May 19, 2013

    @syedznuair: well, we could say, as of today, the mix between automatic algorithm and Internet tech, allows a strong help in the matter; “analytics” for instance, are a strong help for marketing, sales and strategy; on the other hand, we could say these news tools need an expertise on how to use them and how to process the collected data, hence, we are at the initial point once again: training and education are a very relevant aspect, for companies, to invest in.

  31. hash.era
    May 20, 2013

    @mfbertozzi: Yes indeed since training is something which is an essential thing in every learning curve. You cannot do or succeed on something without proper training. It can be self-learning or group learning but still falls under the category of training. 

  32. mfbertozzi
    May 20, 2013

    @hash.era: I would like to mention another point; despite any training plan or set of courses, we can't forget that boss and in general the executives are the first teacher for people which work with/for. If you want to moving forward the company you are leading, you have to be the first teacher by your attitude and behaviour.

  33. hash.era
    May 23, 2013

    @mfbertozzi: Yes exactly, a very good point. You have to lead the way as well as guide your team towards its goal. Then only you plus the team will gain something where as the company will benefit out of it too.  

  34. mfbertozzi
    May 24, 2013

    @hash.era: thanks for the comment, we guess it (will) really happen, sooner or later. But I am sure there are several examples already running that model !

  35. hash.era
    May 25, 2013

    @mfbertozzi: Yes I also hope so and true that it happens in some areas.

  36. syedzunair
    May 26, 2013


    Artificial Intelligence and algorithms have made life much more easier for marketing and other areas too. Today, people can easily segment, target and deploy niche marketing campaigns because of the AI tools. Selection has become much more easier than before and instead of following the mass approach we are now moving towards a targeted approach. 

  37. mfbertozzi
    May 26, 2013

    @syedzunair: well done, it is true; I appreciate your interesting post; it gives us the chance to share that right now, thanks to AI and other approach, for example, paneling model, producers are in condition to collect in near real-time feedback from endusers and then, try to target better the products.

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