Are Supply Chain Skills going to be the next big shortage?

Are Supply Chain Skills going to be the next big shortage?

It’s ironic how the industry grapples with its talent supply. Can recruiters leverage concerns about the impact of automation on supply chain careers to their benefit?

Step into a gathering of supply chain managers, and you might feel like you’ve taken a trip back several decades. Research published in 2021 by Logistics UK reveals that 89% of individuals in this field are white, and 83% are male.

Not only does the profession lack diversity – it also faces stagnation. With an aging workforce, as more employees retire, employers are encountering difficulties in finding fresh talent to fill their roles. According to recruitment giant Hays, over three-quarters of employers seeking to hire in the supply chain and logistics sector this year anticipate a shortage of candidates.

There’s evidently a bottleneck in the talent pipeline, but what are the underlying reasons? And what actions can industry insiders take to address this issue and alleviate the chronic shortage of skills?

Could Automation Put Supply Chain Jobs at Risk?

One of the primary factors hampering the influx of newcomers into the field is the perception that supply chain and procurement roles are highly susceptible to automation, potentially leading to their obsolescence. Employers naturally gravitate towards embracing technological advancements such as machine learning and robotics to capitalize on efficiency gains.

This sentiment, coupled with recent media reports spotlighting failures within critical supply chains and their far-reaching consequences, may have dissuaded individuals from considering entry into the profession.

Scott Dance, a senior director specializing in procurement, logistics, and supply chain management at Hays, suggests that there exists a widespread lack of understanding regarding the nature of the profession and its operations. Implementing an educational campaign aimed at explaining the intricacies of the industry and how professionals carry out their tasks could alleviate apprehensions and mitigate the perceived risks associated with pursuing a career in supply chain and procurement.

“One way to help close the skills gap is to encourage young professionals into the industry, but people’s limited understanding of what this sector does, and its growing importance, is a significant entry barrier to new talent,” he says. “We must raise awareness of what’s involved in supply chain management and why it’s such an appealing thing to be a part of.”

Dance suggests that telling good news stories about the profession – its integral role in sourcing parts for life-saving equipment such as radiotherapy machines, for instance – is one route.

“A good place to start is to ensure that careers advisers in schools and universities stress how crucial the supply chain sector is to everyday life and the UK economy – and how much potential there is for a fulfilling career in this industry,” he says.

The Progress of Artificial Intelligence Presents an Opportunity to Acquire Fresh Skills.

Adopting technologies like generative AI could potentially address the skills gap, provided that the rationale behind its implementation is thoroughly articulated. One viable approach could involve upskilling individuals who possess a basic understanding of supply chains but may be deficient in certain digital competencies essential to the industry.

Ambrozy Rybicki, co-founder and CEO of ARP Ideas, a software development company offering outsourced IT expertise, emphasizes 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.”

Although Rybicki acknowledges that achieving this goal may pose challenges, he underscores the significance of addressing the issue promptly rather than allowing it to escalate unchecked.

“Developing in-house expertise requires time, resources and a clear understanding of emerging technologies,” Rybicki says. “But ignoring the widening tech skills gap will have detrimental effects on the supply chain industry. Companies may struggle to keep pace with technological advancements, leading to inefficiency, cost inflation and a loss of competitiveness.”

In the fiercely competitive landscape that supply chain management now occupies, such negligence could prove to be detrimental.

“The inability to innovate and adapt to market demands may hinder growth and long-term success,” he says. “Whether through in-house development or strategic collaboration with IT experts, taking proactive steps to bridge the skills gap is vital for a resilient, agile and forward-looking supply chain industry.”

Original Article – Are Supply Chain skills going to be the next shortage? (

Share on social media