Earlier in the year, one of our published 2017 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains called for a supply chain talent perfect storm, one that we believed would occupy more of the management attention of supply chain and business leadership. From ongoing data, that prediction seems to be holding true at the mid-year mark.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week that the number of job openings approached a record 6.3 million at the end of June. According to Reuters, that number represented the highest reported openings since the Labor Department began tracking this metric 16 years ago.

U.S. Job openings in June increased by 179,000 in the category of professional and business services, an area that is closely aligned with supply chain management needs. Our prediction was predicated on the need for industry supply chain teams to take on a more industry advisory focus in their respective organizations to support simultaneous strategic, tactical, and operational support needs, coupled with augmented technology applications that enhance decision-making.

Likewise, in both May and in June, a combination of improved order inflows and rising order backlogs caused the manufacturing sector spanning the Eurozone countries to add jobs at the fastest pace recorded in the past 20 years.

The perfect storm relates to the prospects of 2017 providing even more overall pressures to reduce supply chain costs while supply chain remains agile to increased external events.

Supply chain leaders are faced with difficult choices regarding the existing workforce. Executives who previously established multi-year plans to broaden skills and talent now face the reality that talent needs are now more immediate as available external labor pools are increasingly diminished by market supply and increased demand forces. The growing gaps in hiring are another signpost that existing workers do not have adequate tools and training opportunities because business or government training investment activities continue to lag.

Those individuals possessing broad supply chain cross-functional process knowledge coupled with technology savviness and the soft skills needed to influence adoption and change to more advanced decision-making concepts will continue to be in very high demand. That will lead to more job-hopping, affecting even those companies that had taken the initiative to train existing employees. Efforts to increase U.S., North America or Eurozone based manufacturing capabilities now face the reality of an increasing lack of available skilled manufacturing and supply chain related talent.

We again urge our readers through their existing organizations to share what talent recruiting, management and retention programs have garnered positive contributions for their businesses and supply chain organizational needs, along with efforts that incent skilled employees to stay-on.

The talent perfect storm is obviously deepening and proactive cross-business initiatives as well as knowledge sharing is rather critical at this point.

Bob Ferrari

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