The next big shortage to watch? Supply chain skills.
It’s ironic that the profession struggles with its own supply of talent. Can recruiters turn concerns about automation killing off supply chain careers to their own advantage?
According to research by Logistics UK, 89% of people working in this field are white and 83% are men. Not only does this sector lack diversity, but it’s also growing stale as more and more of the ageing workforce retire, employers are struggling to find replacements.
One of the key factors restricting the inflow is that lots of these roles are at risk of becoming automated to extinction. There are also media reports highlighting failures in important supply chains and their ramifications, may well have deterred potential entrants to the field.
Jose Arturo Garza-Reyes (head of the Centre for Supply Chain Improvement at the University of Derby) has noted that sectors such as tourism, healthcare and IT have faced similar issues in the past and had to improve pay and conditions to become more attractive career options. If supply chain businesses don’t take similar action then their could be serious consequences, such as operational inefficiencies, delays and increased costs for both companies and consumers.
Embracing tech such as generative AI could offer a solution to the skills shortage. One way this could be done is by training up people who have some familiarity with supply chains but may lack digital skills required in the sector.
Ambrozy Rybicki (CEO of ARP Ideas) stresses that “supply chain employers must recognise the importance of new IT skills in optimising their operations. Investing in continuous training programmes for employees can enhance their technical capabilities.” While this might be easier said than done, it is still a better solution than letting the tech skill gaps widen as this could have a detrimental effect on the industry.