The APQC Blog

Can Millennials Bridge the Supply Chain Talent Gap?

Recent surveys of supply chain executives have shown that attracting and retaining talent in the supply chain is a big concern, especially in light of the impending retirement of baby boomers who have long made up the bulk of supply chain professionals. Last week at the Supply Chain and Logistics Summit in Dallas, the subject of the supply chain talent gap was a popular one. Almost as frequently raised was the subject of attracting Millennials to the supply chain field.

The Supply Chain Talent Gap

During one session, Dr. Morgan Swink of Texas Christian University spoke about the skills needed by the supply chain executives of the future. As APQC found in a recent study, there is a definite gap between the skills needed in the supply chain and the skills possessed by current supply chain job applicants. Some of the skills most lacking in these candidates are strategic in nature, such as global supply chain knowledge, supply chain strategy, and leadership experience.

Dr. Swink noted that the strategic nature of the supply chain will only increase with time. Thus future supply chain executives will need to be well versed in organizational politics, globally aware, culturally sensitive, socially responsible, tech savvy, devoted to life-long learning, and able to choose the best way to communicate a message in a given situation.

Where Do Millennials Fit in Supply Chain Management?

Organizations are looking to Millennials to both fill the current gap in supply chain talent and to take the place of the retiring Baby Boomers. Yet many organizations are unsure of how to attract Millennials into the supply chain field. Some larger organizations are partnering with universities to attract graduates from formal supply chain degree programs.

Yet Dr. Swink indicated in his presentation that Millennials value formal employee development programs that ensure opportunities for growth. He also indicated that adapting organizational hierarchies, providing rationale for organizational policies, leveraging the Millennials’ affinity for team environments, and creating a clear work-life balance were key to attracting these individuals to supply chain positions. However, this may be a stark departure from organizational cultures that emphasize the need to work long hours and take individual initiative for career development.

Is your organization taking steps to attract more Millennials to the supply chain? How has this shifted your organization’s culture?

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