Global supply chains are going through various changes and many organizations are recognizing that implementing new technology will help them face these changes, streamline their operations, and save time and money. There is a pressure to adopt new technologies to stay ahead of the game and at the same time, businesses of all sizes are facing a widening supply chain talent gap.
Businesses have to struggle for this tech talent as technology becomes vital in just about every sector. In fact, this gap between demand and supply could result in 2.2 million jobs going unfilled in the manufacturing sector alone, according to a report by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.
There is no doubt that the supply chain is already making its way towards increased automation. Today, warehouses are full of robots, large companies are opting for autonomous trucks to transport goods, and the industry is increasingly using analytics for its daily tasks. However, further adoption will rely on people that know how to implement these kinds of technologies. Reports mention that it isn’t just technology where the supply chain has struggled. Many recruiters have said they struggle when looking for workers in the warehouse and in trucking.
To tackle this issue, it is important to understand the causes of the digital talent gap in supply chain:
In fact, the reasons for the deepening shortage of supply chain talent are varied and sometimes tied to local circumstances. Here are a few commonly cited examples:
- Demographics: In Western Europe, the United States, and Australia, demographics is part of the problem. Since baby boomers are retiring, various companies found out they don’t have a big enough pool of experienced managers to replace them. Millennials are surely entering the workforce and have been able to fill some of the open entry-level positions. However, many companies are experiencing a lack of middle managers with the required skills, according to the 2012 report “Supply Chain Talent: The Missing Link?” by supply chain analyst Lora Cecere.
- Changing Skill Set: Companies are now looking for replacements who have a broader skill set than those who came before them. The growing significance of technology to the field means that candidates – even for skilled labour positions such as forklift drivers – need more technical and analytical skills. Also, as supply chain managers take on more strategic roles in their companies, they will need more soft skills, including project management, leadership, communications, and relationship management capabilities.
- Cost Cutting Measures: The shortage has widened by the cost-cutting measures companies employed during the recent economic downturn. A number of companies decreased headcount and cut back or eliminated their training and development programs. Consequently, workers have not had the resources they need to develop the skills required to respond to today’s supply chain challenges.
- Lack of innovative Training Programs: The lack of innovative training programs to keep up with industry changes is one of the main factors contributing to supply chains digital skills gap. Employees are now more than ever interested in professional development and companies offering the best training are more likely to attract the best talents. The advent of eLearning solutions are now enabling more and more companies to train their employees in a flexible and practical way.
Corporate Training as a way to overcome the digital skills gap
As digital skills gap in supply chains keeps getting bigger, leading companies are actively working on the shortage problem. One of the most practical solutions begins with developing the workforce through clear career-pathing, education, talent development partnerships and other means.
Organizations are digitizing supply chains since it seems to be the key to increasing transparency and visibility while controlling replenishment, maintenance, production, transportation, delivery and customer satisfaction, as well as driving efficiencies and mitigating risk. Additionally, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) technology is unlocking real-time decision making and forecasts, while big data and predictive analytics are providing new levels of transparency and increased cost savings. All these technology tools are certainly a huge plus for any company but the key is to find the right employees and at the same time find the right training to allow them to handle these new technologies effectively.
For the past few years, leading training providers have come up with eLearning solutions especially suitable to fill the digital skills gap. For example, Scenario-based training videos are great to help employees experience real job situations and allow them to stay prepared for any challenges. The gamified educational experience makes the learning more enjoyable and, in some cases for the younger generations, more familiar, as it is similar to popular gaming tools. As participants progress through the learning modules, they can also track their progress and find out where they need improvement.
The digital skills gap in supply chains is currently a serious issue, which calls for immediate action to be taken by business leaders. Continuously learning and improving with advanced technology tools can help operators continue to progress with their skills and, ultimately, improve a company’s bottom line productivity.