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Report: Supply chain staff shortages may reach crisis by 2020


The impact of digitalization and status of the supply chain profession are driving a global talent shortage crisis

London, UK – A survey conducted by DHL found that the supply chain talent pool is not keeping up with the changing requirements as technology reshapes the industry. According the survey, more than a third of companies have failed to take steps to create their future talent pipeline or develop their workforce. The survey also reported that the common impression of supply chain careers as lacking in excitement continues to have a significant impact in finding, attracting and retaining talent.

DHL called upon industry leaders to recognize the growing talent gap crisis in the supply chain sector. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs in logistics are estimated to grow by 26 percent between 2010 and 2020. Furthermore, one global study estimated that demand for supply chain professionals exceeds supply by a ratio of 6:1, with some predicting that ratio could be as drastic as 9:1.

DHL surveyed more than 350 supply chain and operations professionals in five global regions. The findings revealed that there are a number of reasons contributing to the talent shortage crisis in a rapidly evolving field. The report ‘The Supply Chain Talent Shortage: From Gap to Crisis’ was commissioned by DHL and authored by Lisa Harrington, president of the lharrington group LLC. The report highlights the key supply chain talent challenges experienced today, and identifies opportunities for businesses to compete on a global stage.

Harrington said, “Leading companies understand that their supply chains – and the people who run them – are essential to their ability to grow profitably. However, the task of finding people with the right skillsets required to run these highly complex operations is increasingly difficult – especially at the middle- and upper management levels. Unless companies solve this problem, it could threaten their very ability to compete on the global stage.”

The survey revealed the top factors driving the talent shortage:

  • Changing skill requirements: Today, the ideal employee has both tactical/operational expertise and professional competencies such as analytical skills. 58 percent of companies say this combination is hard to find. But tomorrow’s talent must also excel at leadership, strategic thinking, innovation, and high-level analytic and technological capabilities.
  • Aging workforce: As much as a third of the current workforce is at or beyond the retirement age.
  • Lack of development: One third of companies surveyed have taken no steps to create or feed their future talent pipeline.
  • Perception that supply chain jobs lack excitement: The industry is still contending with the impression that other fields are more prestigious and offer more opportunities, fuelling lack of interest in the industry within the world’s future workforce.

Harrington continues, “Companies are now recognizing that sourcing strategy has a large impact on their bottom line and ability to remain competitive. As one study recently found, companies that excel in talent management increased their revenues 2.2 times as fast and their profits 1.5 times as fast compared to ‘talent laggards.’ That’s a powerful advantage. Unfortunately, recruiting the right talent – especially at the critical mid-level and senior management levels – is proving very difficult in today’s environment. New technologies and fundamental areas of the supply chain have changed, meaning they now require that a person has a different and much larger skillset than required when most of the current workforce began their careers.”