The Supply Chain Matters blog continues its series of unveiling 2019 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains. In this Part Two posting, we explore our second prediction related to critical talent needs among all functional and technical support areas of supply chain management.  Integrated Business Planning

On an annual basis, the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group provides a series of supply chain management focused predictions for the coming year.  These predictions are provided to our clients and readers of this Supply Chain Matters blog in the spirit of advising line-of-business, multi-industry cross-functional supply chain management and supporting IT teams a sensing of meaningful initiatives, programs or capabilities we feel will be of importance.  The predictions further serve as our continued research and client advisory agenda in the coming year.

The context of these predictions includes a broad cross-functional umbrella of what today is supply chain management, and includes areas of supply chain leadership and strategy, product management, strategic sourcing and procurement, planning and execution, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, online fulfillment.

We initiated this series in a blog that summarized themes and insights included in all ten of our predictions.

Part One of the series highlighted what industry and global supply chain management teams should expect from a global economic outlook perspective.

In this Part Two commentary, we highlight our prediction related to talent needs among all functional and technical support areas of supply chain management.


2019 Prediction Two: Needs for Talent Recruitment, Development and Retention Will Reach Alarming Stages Possibly Impacting Ongoing Initiatives.

For the past two years, we predicted a talent perfect storm, one that would occupy a lot of management attention for all the functions that make-up the umbrella of today’s supply chain management roles and responsibilities. The perfect storm was increased demand for both specialized and general skills meeting limited available supply of talent.

Indeed, such predictions came to pass for both years. The quest for talent has spread across global regions, and especially for developed regions such as Canada, the Eurozone and the United States. Likewise, developing regions have needs for specific advanced technology and general management skills.

We now predict that needs for talent acquisition and retention will likely escalate to what experts believe will be higher levels of concern, hindering functional and business need requirements in areas of process transformation and adapting to the required business changes required for 2019 and beyond.

When we unveiled our 2018 prediction scorecard for this specific area, recruiters and employers indicated that some progress was made in increasing supply chain management related compensation levels and working conditions. Similarly, companies and organizations stepped-up efforts to recruit candidates from colleges and universities, governmental training programs or military veteran outplacement programs. U.S. manufacturers have further been able to close some of the gaps in recruiting or training of skilled manufacturing talent. All such efforts were important.

Despite these efforts, overall demands for talent continue to escalate management attention.

The overall amount of data and information needing to be analyzed by supply chain management teams has increased requiring candidates with deeper and broader analytical skills. The implications of an explosion in online commerce, with more goods in constant movement continues to fuel needs for added logistics, transportation, customer fulfillment and operations management talent.

Recruiters and employers indicate building talent shortages in areas of strategic sourcing and procurement, supply chain and integrated business planning, omni-channel logistics and customer fulfillment. Geo-political developments, trade war and other threats require more international sourcing experience along with senior management advisory skills.

Our panel of experienced recruiters indicated that qualified supply chain management candidates are currently averaging 3-4 job offers before making an employment decision. In logistics, trucking and customer fulfillment areas, an increased emphasis on employee referrals, social media and mobile device advertising techniques have yielded results but demand levels continue.

Rodney Apple, Founder and Manager Partner at SCM Talent Group reinforced to us that there is no better time to be in the supply chain management field given the current market dynamics. Jason Breault, President of specialty supply chain planning recruitment firm LifeWork Search indicated that in today’s hot market for talent, a bachelor’s degree may not be enough to land the ideal position. Similarly, deep analytical skills need to be complemented by proven cross-functional collaborative and team management skills.

Unprecedented levels of low unemployment levels in areas, such as Canada and the United States, and more experienced baby boomers continuing to exit the workforce on a monthly basis cause the skill acquisition need to become more acute in 2019. Bronwen Hann, President and Senior Partner at Canadian based supply chain management specialty recruiting firm Argentus Recruiting described the current supply chain talent challenge as reaching “alarming” stages on a global-wide scale. More baby boomer are exiting while company needs for specialized talent continue to increase.

Large employers can attract candidates because of brand recognition and budget resources, while smaller business or up-and-coming industry disrupters must rely on more incentives related to growth, working environment and added responsibilities.

The millennial workforce is attracted to companies that offer broader opportunities for growth, exposure to more advanced technologies and cross-functional assignment opportunities. According to our panel of experts, hints of a supply chain organization on the decline and not investing in the future, or a noticeable shift toward broad cost reductions can trigger millennials to jump to a more attractive employer that is willing and able to invest in added talent.

Added Efforts

Individual businesses, industry groups and governmental bodies will need to re-double efforts to attract emerging talent to careers that umbrella today’s industry supply chain management functions. They need to include garnering interest and exposure within middle and high school, technical, vocational and community college levels, including introduction of supply chain management curriculum.

Retention comes from efforts directed at competitive compensation, attractive benefits, quality of work life and clear career paths that blend added cross-functional responsibilities with broader change management and program oversight skills.

This concludes Part Two of our 2019 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains.

In a subsequent posting in this series, we highlight our third prediction which reflects on what we believe will be unprecedented levels of global supply management challenges in the coming year.


Bob Ferrari

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