Supply Chain Matters continues a series of blogs focused on assisting industry supply chain management and business teams in their planning and tactical strategies for the second half of 2021.

Our initial blog in this series was: Diligent and Data-Driven Planning Essential for the Second Half of 2021.

Prediction Five in our 2021 Predictions for Industry and Global Supply Chains published at the beginning of this year, indicated that the well being and care of people and fostering of needed digital process skills would take center stage this year. Our prediction was that as more businesses and their respective supply chain management teams turn their attention towards transformation, there is an increased realization for mind shifting related to talent and skill retention as well as recruitment. The need existed before the pandemic and is now ever more apparent as teams navigate continued challenges.

We further indicated that New Thinking in this area is focusing supply chain management as overseeing and synchronizing a connected system on inter-related product demand and supply networks, with a greater emphasis in skills-based development and recruiting. It will be based on seeking talent with intimate experience and knowledge of business and supply chain capabilities with “digital native” skills. We predicted that New Directions would be a movement away from command and control or hierarchical decision-making and more toward cross-business and cross-functional virtual tiger team-based collaboration.

We referenced views from other experts who predicted that the post-pandemic new normal would provide a more pronounced global wide competition for supply chain focused talent and would foster broader access to needed tech resources.


Demand and Supply Imbalance for Talent

Canadian based supply chain management recruiting firm Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting has published a blog: Make No Mistake: It’s Still a Candidate’s Market in Supply Chain, The latest from the front lines of Supply Chain hiring.

The commentary reports that prior to COVID-19, there was already a talent deficit. Hiring slowed to a crawl when COVID-19 first impacted businesses as many supply chain management teams were marshalled around “all-hands-on-deck” efforts in responding to simultaneous product demand and supply disruptions. To their credit, businesses pivoted their hiring efforts in the ability to interview candidates virtually, and in on-boarding new hires not yet met in-person.

The commentary then notes that in mid-2021, on-the-ground checks with hiring managers, HR reps and job candidates themselves from across the supply chain industry reinforce the following: “But make no mistake: the Supply Chain industry is still a candidate’s market’. The observation is that the supply chain talent deficit remains ever more a challenge:And companies that fail to recognize a candidate’s market are adding risk to their hiring process.

Stated is that qualified candidates are fielding multiple job opportunities and in cases multiple offers at the same time, despite employer efforts for a rigorous hiring and screening effort. Advice rendered is to avoid letting lengthy approvals processes, elongated interview processes, hiring managers’ vacations, or other internal factors slow down recruit efforts.

The blog goes on to identify three broad skill areas that are experiencing the highest demand. There is a caveat that different geographies, disciplines and individual skill sets with different levels of demand.

The takeaway message, however, is that companies cannot afford to view their hiring processes like they did in mid-2020, or even prior to the pandemic.

The ongoing talent shortage involves other organizational needs including skilled IT resources. The Wall Street Journal reports that according to recent surveys, many skilled IT workers are on the hunt for new jobs, seeking remote job options, better opportunities for promotion and higher compensation. Cited is a recent survey conducted by Robert Half International of more than 2800 IT professionals, one third of which indicating they plan to seek a new job in the next few months.

Supply Chain Matters would add that our recent conversations with recruiters reinforce the above and sometimes add that some organization’s are still of the belief that they can offer compensation and benefits below market norms even for candidates in high demand skill areas.

The other implied takeaway message is that in the current environment of continuous supply chain disruption and rapidly changing business needs, there are sometimes needs to rely on employees to work longer hours or sacrifice quality of life needs, especially if employee skills are unique.

The notions of navigating extreme periods of supply and demand imbalances are the same- value your people, respect their individual economic, quality-of-life and career aspiration needs.  If hiring managers of are the belief that qualified and skilled supply chain talent is available in the current landscape, you are likely mistaken if you do not fully understand the dynamics of seller’s market.

Finally, a message for new academic graduates or people in other occupations contemplating career change. The area of supply chain management not only needs qualified people but candidates with the skills tendencies indicated in these new areas of transformation and data-driven decision making. Consider making supply chain management a long-term career choice.


Bob Ferrari

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