Reader Responses: Is There a Supply Chain Talent Deficit?

July 18, 2016



We spend a lot of time on the Argentus blog covering the so-called talent deficit in Supply Chain and its implications – both for companies looking to hire and young people entering the industry for the first time. The short story is that organizations are having a tougher time than ever finding and hiring star performers in the field, due to a combination of factors:

  • The changing and expanding skillset that modern Supply Chains require.
  • The looming retirement of the baby boomer generation.
  • The fact that many young people either haven’t heard of Supply Chain, or still don’t see it as the vital and strategic field it’s become.

As is often the case, these factors don’t tell the whole story. Trends are changing: for example, there are some indications that more young people are getting into the field. These are big picture factors that don’t necessarily speak to the perspective of everyone looking to hire or looking for work. We understand that hearing this message might be difficult for people who are having trouble securing employment in the field, especially those first couple jobs, which are the hardest part of any career.

So over the past few weeks we’ve made an effort to reach onto our social media networks and ask for comments about the Supply Chain talent deficit from those who are in the trenches, working to hire or get hired in this fast-rising field. Today, we’re sharing some of the most insightful responses we’ve received. Our goal is to help our readers get a picture of perspectives on the ground.

The question: Is there a talent deficit in Supply Chain?

Ted Maddock says: “There was a gap developing a few years ago but from my perspective, with the current economic climate it may have been partially corrected as there are a number of positions no longer available. There are definitely a lot more candidates out there all competing for the same positions and it’s a lot tougher to secure an interview these days.”

Dennis Adulu says: “There are a lot of candidates out there but securing an interview is the issue. We are also in a state where most companies require that you have a background in accounting training which most young guys have not done yet.”

Corey Oppenheimer says: “I think the issue that I am facing most, as someone looking to transition into the supply chain field is a catch 22 situation. Most employers want the experience, yet job seekers cannot achieve the experience without first earning that position. Many Supply Chain and Procurement skills are transferable from other positions and industries, however I don’t think that is being considered.”

John Skelton says: “I agree with Mr. Oppenheimer’s comment that many seekers are faced with the classic Catch 22: without two to five years of experience, graduates face limited opportunity. How, then, do they enter the stream? I see many talented students flow through my classrooms, some newer Canadians, some transitioning into Supply Chain from less fulfilling careers. At my college, we teach excellent skills across a broad range of Supply Chain and logistics related subject areas. It is a focused and challenging curriculum. Yet many grads struggle to find meaningful roles to get started. We work with some very generous and visionary businesses, but they are few and far between. To me, business has to step up to the plate in larger numbers, and take some calculated risks. Partner with colleges. Invite new grads into entry-level roles. Help them learn the business. Invest in them. Pay them a good wage. Don’t expect to recruit an MBA from Michigan State with 5 years of experience in SCM for $35k CAD. I’ll wager that some of these new grads will save their companies hundreds of thousands of dollars in their first 5 years, if they are given a chance. Will there be a few failures? Yes. But I am confident that the potential rewards far outweigh the risks.”

Sylvia Qurashi says: “Thank you all for your comments. I do agree that the catch 22 situation is difficult. Soon I will find out if Dennis is right, though. By October 2016 I will be looking for an internship in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. My experience though was as financial controller. Hopefully the combination will be helpful.”

Njoki Kiguatha says: “I agree with what John said. Most organizations want someone with the expertise and experience of 5 years but are also willing to pay them wages comparable of an intern.”

Richard Jennings says: “Here in the UK, I think there are talented SCM team members that are not working in management given the sheer weight of competition to break through to the next level. Personally I got my break when my boss left my company and I knew the ropes, but going from a senior supply chain role to management is difficult. Succession planning these days is a joke if you ask me in most large corporations.”


Thanks very much to anyone who provided their perspective! And as always, we’re looking to start a conversation. If you’re in Supply Chain (either on the hiring or job searching side, and those are often more intertwined than you might think), what’s your take? Is there a talent deficit in Supply Chain in your market? Let us know in the comments! logo_icon

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It only takes a moment. You’ll receive low-volume, high-impact market insights from the top specialty Supply Chain recruiters including: Salary Information, Supply Chain industry trends, Market Intelligence, personal branding tips and more.