Which Manufacturing Supply Chain Skills are in Highest Demand?

May 21, 2019

The global Supply Chain provides goods to consumers faster and more efficiently than ever before, and there’s a staggering diversity of Supply Chain professionals making that happen. Today, we want to take a moment to highlight the skills profile for one of Supply Chain’s most important industries – which also happens to contain one of its hottest job markets: Manufacturing.

Sitting at the intersection of raw materials acquisition and distribution of finished goods, manufacturing is one of the most crucial functions within the global Supply Chain. Despite perennial political statements around the “demise of manufacturing,” the sector is quite strong in Canada, especially in the Supply Chain, Purchasing and Logistics functions.

At Argentus, we’ve always worked in manufacturing recruitment, but we’ve been making a big push into this area recently, including in the areas of Aerospace, Consumer Electronics, Automotive, Electrical Manufacturing, Manufacturing Automation, and Food Production. We’ve seen what’s happening in the industry firsthand: dynamic companies are redefining the space, using a strong Supply Chain to scale up quickly while controlling costs.

In the past few months, we’ve helped a Food Production company with an innovative approach to product development scale up their Procurement and Plant bench strength. We’ve bolstered a fast-growing Aerospace company looking for highly-technical technical buyers to boost their new product introductions. We’ve helped a startup manufacturer seeking their first Supply Chain Manager to implement a sourcing, distribution and logistics strategy for the first time.

And these are just a few. These experiences, combined with our intelligence in the marketplace, have given us a good understanding of the hottest skills in Manufacturing Supply Chain jobs in the market as of right now.

A couple caveats: this reflects manufacturing positions at the corporate Supply Chain Management level and not the shop floor / distribution centre level. It also isn’t exhaustive of all required skills, just those that we’ve noticed being in high demand recently.

So without further ado, here are some of the hottest skills:

“Direct” Purchasing: Raw Materials, Packaging, Food

Buying raw materials has always been a vital part of manufacturing – after all, what can you produce without raw materials? – but clients’ demand for specific raw materials purchasing experience is rising. Whether it’s food ingredients or building materials, companies are looking for individuals who can think strategically about raw materials to find better suppliers and processes. For certain raw materials, they want individuals who have a deep understanding of particular commodities markets. If you’re in Manufacturing purchasing, think closely about what sort of buying you’re doing, how to diversify that experience, and deepen your understanding of the market you’re buying in – there are big dividends for those who do.

ERP Skills:

It probably goes without saying at this point, but a high degree of competency with ERP systems is a must-have in today’s manufacturing Supply Chain. Many of the vital Supply Chain planning functions for most manufacturing processes (production planning, supply network planning, etc.) run through ERP systems like SAP, Oracle or Microsoft NAV, so it’s no wonder that most front line workers distinguish themselves with excellent command of these systems.

Buying “build to spec” for highly engineered components:

If you’re working in a highly technical subsection of manufacturing (electrical, aerospace, etc.), more companies are seeking Procurement people with the technical background to source components at a very early stage of new product development. We’ve worked on a number of searches recently where our client is looking for new product buyers who can source based on technical specs, as opposed to drawings. People with mechanical engineering backgrounds are excellent for these roles. But even if you don’t have that background, an understanding of detailed technical specifications can give your career a boost over more transactional buyers.

Continuous Improvement:

Lean manufacturing, Kaizen and continuous improvement are decades old at this point, but manufacturers who fail to implement these models are still falling behind in the marketplace. The ability to constantly improve manufacturing processes is still one of the chief differentiators for Supply Chains, and companies are constantly on the lookout for people who can help transform and improve their operations. Boosting your skills with continuous improvement, just-in-time manufacturing, and Six Sigma are some of the best ways to distinguish yourself in the field.

So that’s some perspective from the front lines of Supply Chain recruitment in manufacturing. But what are you seeing in the marketplace, either as a Supply Chain professional or hiring manager? Let us know in the comments!


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