As technology enables more companies to enter emerging markets across the globe, the business world is becoming more interconnected – and the supply chain is becoming more complex. Businesses worldwide may face greater competition in recruiting professionals with the right supply chain management skills.
In fact, industry experts point to shortages of new workers entering the field at a time when demand is increasing. The past few years have seen a talent drain in the field, fueled in part by the global recession and an aging workforce.
For example, a recent DHL report noted that auto industry supply chain jobs currently outnumber qualified graduates by a ratio of 6 to 1; this could increase to 9 to 1 in the future. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs for supply chain professionals, or logisticians, will rise by 22% between 2012 and 2022 – that’s twice the average growth rate projected for all occupations during the same decade.
It’s clear that supply chain management is crucial to companies looking to diversify markets, improve the bottom line and remain competitive. At the same time, the skills needed to succeed in this field are evolving. So, what do forward-thinking companies need from supply chain professionals?
Critical Skills for Supply Chain Management
Volatility in commodities markets, regional economies and global trade creates variables that place increasing pressure on supply chains. As a result, companies will likely need candidates with a mix of specialized skills in order to deal with such challenges. These key skills can include:
- Technical savvy: An influx of available data offers new insights into demand, inventory and ways to boost efficiencies across the supply chain. Supply chain managers need to understand and analyze this flood of data, and to decide which information is most important to meet company objectives. They must be familiar with the latest generation of technology tools and software solutions, and be able to communicate proficiently with the organization’s top managers in information technology.
- Global orientation: Global sourcing and supply chains have expanded for both retailers and manufacturers, with many organizations buying and/or selling around the world. This places an emphasis on the ability to deal effectively with suppliers and customers from different cultures.
- Sharp business skills: Breaking out of the “logistics management” mold requires problem-solving and strategic-thinking skills. Communicating on an equal footing with senior executives is essential. Knowledge of the company’s financials, including acronyms such as EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) and OIBDA (operating income before depreciation and amortization), is also needed.
- Systems thinking: Thinking of the supply chain as a holistic system with interrelated parts, rather than individual challenges, is necessary to meet cross-company, cross-functional needs. Some supply chain managers may recognize the supply chain as a system but don’t consistently manage it that way.
How Supply Chain Managers Can Impact Organizations
In the global economy, companies that wish to remain competitive are likely to need:
- Agile supply chains
- Robust data to predict demand, supply levels and other critical information
- Supply chain managers with global knowledge and strategic-thinking skills
A superior supply chain manager can provide operational success by reducing costs, extracting more value out of the supply chain, and enabling expansion into emerging markets, such as India, Brazil, China and Russia.
Demand for Supply Chain Skills Set to Rise
With so much at stake in the modern economy, qualified supply chain professionals could see unprecedented opportunities to make significant contributions to global organizations. Finding talented supply chain managers is key to building a world-class supply chain.
As businesses become more aggressive with cutting costs and boosting efficiencies in order to stay viable in an increasingly competitive environment, they will look for individuals with specialized supply chain skills and training.