Daily Archives: April 12, 2012

Is Supply Chain Losing the Talent Race?

PWC recently released a report on Winning the Talent Race which was Volume 5 of its study on talent management. Although it contained some not altogether unexpected results (given the talent shortage predictions back in 2007 and the lack of focus on talent management in Supply Chain), the numbers are still quite shocking in magnitude. Not only are 400,000 more truck drivers needed in the US trucking industry alone (up from about 100,000 five years ago), but current estimates by the CSCMP (Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals) are that the US trucking industry will need to hire 1 Million new drives in the next 15 years just to deal with replacing retirees (as 35% of professionals in the transportation and logistics industry are over 50) and projected freight level increases!

But the real problem is that, first of all, this problem is global. Across North America and the EU we have the situation where 35%, or more, of our professionals are nearing retirement age and the number of potential recruits (eligible to hold a commercial driving license) is not keeping pace in an industry where the number of professionals needed to keep pace with global trade. Global trade is expected to at least triple in the next 20 years, due largely in part to emerging markets around the globe, and as a result, the number of professionals needed to staff the industry is going to triple in the next 10 to 15 years (as they need to be hired in time to get the requisite training and experience to take over before we lose all of our greybeards).

And, second of all, rising stars do not want to work in the industry. The researchers found that the new generation of recruits typically view jobs in the T&L sector as “dead-ends” because of factors including low wages, unfavourable working environments, and a lack of career advancement opportunities and that 27% of current T&L workers compromised in accepting a job they felt had less career potential / opportunities for advancement than they had hoped and over 50% of logistics and supply chain professionals are actively looking for another job with better offers. This is terrible and shocking. Supply chains fuel the business world and half of the people we have want out?

But we shouldn’t be surprised. When was the last time your organization actually did something to address the talent management issue that has been on your top three list for the last five years. If you’re honest, chances are your answer is a number that is further than five years in the past or never. Every year for the past four years, like The Mpower Group who has also been trying to address this issue for a couple of years, I heard lots of chatter about how this was going to be the year the organization was going to take the talent bull by the horns and get it in line and every year nothing got done as the training budget was the first to go in the lingering downturn and focus was shifted back to cost savings at all cost. You can’t ignore a talent management issue year over year and expect that it will just fix itself from an organizational viewpoint. The only thing that will happen is that whatever talent you have will leave and take your talent reputation with you. (And good luck attracting new talent then.) If you think your problems are bad enough now, imagine how bad they’ll be when you have no points of talent attraction in a world where talent is attracted to, and finds, talent.

Remember, we are entering the age of connectedness where, thanks to global mega-platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, everyone is connected to everyone else within 5 degrees of separation (actually, 4.6 and falling), and everybody knows that the dice are loaded, rolling with their fingers crossed. And everybody knows that when your top talent leaves that the plague is coming and moving fast (and, thanks to Facebook, they know before you do). That’s why one of the major recruitment weak points that the survey pointed out is social media. Unfortunately, Transportation, Logistics and Supply Chain is way behind on this front and losing ground fast.

Of course, recruitment isn’t the only issue. As the survey discovered, it’s also compensation, career path, and corporate brand. Rising stars want to feel that they are getting the best offer out there, that they can progress up a career path, and that they are working for a great company. A quick look at the top employer lists doesn’t include many (if any) T&L companies and only a few are known for their world class supply chains. Companies like Apple, where the CSCO (Chief Supply Chain Officer) can become next-in-line for CEO, need to be the norm, not the exception (and a career path from logistics manager to CSCO has to exist for the right hard-working, ambitious, and ready to learn superstar). In addition, as the report points out, the lack of diversity and understanding of demographic shifts isn’t helping.

In short, if your organization doesn’t kick its Supply Management Talent Management program into high gear this year, it may not be around in five years to figure out how it’s going to replace 35% of its staff.