Plugging The Skills Gap In Supply Chain

“People are our greatest asset,” is a common refrain within the business world.

And, while the expression has become cliché at this point, that certainly doesn’t make it untrue.

Business success depends on having a skilled labor force in place. Without dedicated, hard-working, and knowledgeable employees, your company is doomed to fail.

Supply chain organizations all over the world are presently experiencing considerable challenges with regard to the workforce. In fact, 56 percent of surveyed executives classify their lack of qualified staff as “extremely challenging,” according to recent SCM World research.

And though many companies are facing a wide variety of human resource scarcity concerns, a number of today’s leading supply chain enterprises have developed unique strategies to address these issues.

The root causes of human resource scarcity

Why are supply chain organizations having such a difficult time with human resource scarcity?

SCM World says there are two primary reasons:

1. Experienced baby boomers in their 50s and 60s are beginning to retire

2. Requisite skills to run complex, multi-faceted supply chains are constantly evolving

On the basis of that, it should come as no surprise that companies are growing increasingly eager to find and hire talented staff. Incidentally, these are two of the most pressing challenges for today’s supply chain enterprises, according to SCM World research. This is followed by retaining staff, offering workers compelling career paths, and developing employee skills.

How supply chain leaders address human resource scarcity

With such a wide range of human resource scarcity issues impacting supply chain organizations, there’s no one tried-and-true approach to addressing these concerns. As such, today’s top companies have developed a diverse set of strategies aimed at overcoming their unique workforce challenges:

The Coca-Cola Company: The Coca-Cola Company is focusing its efforts on ensuring its employees possess the capabilities they need to be successful in their roles. The beverage corporation partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology to create a global talent development program. The program seeks to provide supply chain directors, managers, and other staff with expertise around critical operational execution skills as well as insight on topics such as business strategy and change management. Since launching in 2010, over 1,000 people from 73 different countries have participated in the program.

Colgate-Palmolive: Data-driven decision making is a core component of Colgate-Palmolive’s 2020 global supply chain strategy. To enable this, the global consumer products company is prioritizing the recruiting of employees with analytical competencies or helping to develop these skills in its existing staff.

BASF: BASF has made a huge investment in the people it hires. The chemical company is committed to bringing on the best and brightest, recruiting PhD mathematicians and data scientists who are capable of boosting supply chain efficiencies and reducing supply chain complexities. These individuals are also able to access and analyze predictive analytics to improve forecasting quality and anticipate when facilities need maintenance.

Carlsberg: Carlsberg, a Denmark-based brewing company, actively collaborates with key suppliers to enhance its supply chain operations, minimize waste and use resources more cost-effectively. A total of 30 staff members from Carlsberg and German packaging specialist KHS are presently working together on various R&D, engineering, supply chain, and other tasks. The ongoing collaboration has already resulted in the successful removal of 14.4 million cardboard trays and 1.3 million euros in annual cost savings.

Volvo: The rise in driverless cars is leading to more and more potential partnership opportunities between vehicle manufacturers and high-tech companies. Swedish auto maker Volvo recently announced a joint venture with car safety supplier Autoliv to develop new safety and autonomous driving systems. Beginning in 2017, 200 employees from the two companies will collaborate on software that will be used in Volvo cars and available to other auto manufacturers for purchase.

Enabling supply chain skills for a digital future

People may be your company’s greatest asset, but they’re also undoubtedly among your greatest concerns. Your business needs to ensure that its staff is up to the task of managing your supply chain operations at the highest level.

In the digital economy, supply chain employees must possess different skills than those required in the past. They must be analytical, data-oriented, and tech-savvy. They must be willing to grow professionally and adapt to the latest industry innovations.

Today’s top supply chain organizations are addressing their employees’ skills gaps and other human resource scarcity concerns in a number of ways, from investing in comprehensive training and development programs to partnering with other companies and leveraging the collective capabilities of their talented staffs.

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