Lack of Supply Chain Talent—or Lack of Talent Management?

It's important to remember that millennials have different job needs than previous generations.

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Young people who go into supply chain and manufacturing jobs complain that employers demand creativity during the hiring process, yet have no tolerance for new ideas in the workplace.

My university has a new and relatively small degree program, but just in the past three years a dozen of our graduates who landed jobs in Fortune 100 companies—several listed on Gartner's Top 25 Supply Chains—have made the same complaint: companies use their reputation to hire over-qualified workers into low-skill jobs. Likely this isn't purposeful deception—hiring supervisors are simply demanding to get the best—yet it's no wonder that young people going through a lengthy hiring process that hypes up the need for well-educated go-getters feel disenchanted when they land in a clerk's position.

It's important to remember that millennials have different job needs than previous generations. They want to be engaged and they have to feel a kinship with the corporate message and vision in order for them to be happy and fully productive.

Talent shortages are about to become a serious concern and the biggest shortfalls are in key supply chain areas like engineers and machinists, IT, factory jobs, truck drivers, and skilled trades—and shortages are likely to become worse in the current immigration climate. America's talent market suffers partly because our country is pricing labor out of the marketplace, with healthcare costs alone increasing 50-percent in the past two years.

On the other hand, there's evidence that companies show little commitment to developing and rewarding needed skills, and companies hire top-notch graduates in order to avoid having to deal with people problems later, which shows that there's likely insufficient training and support as personnel move into supervisory positions.

There's no excuse for companies misleading job applicants, and it's tantamount to a breach of contract to promise excellent career tracks and then refuse to commit to developing that talent.

My concern is how the current environment disproportionately disincentivizes our best and brightest students. Labor still makes up the most expensive resource in most supply chains, yet it often is taken for granted.

Next time you ask, “Why aren't more people interested in supply chain careers?” look first at your talent development strategy—if you have one.

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About the Author

Michael Gravier, Associate Professor
Michael Gravier

Michael Gravier is a Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at Bryant University with a focus on logistics, supply chain management and strategy and international trade. Follow Bryant University on Facebook and Twitter.

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