Surviving the Supply Chain Talent Crisis

Supply Chain Talent Shortage

The supply chain industry is facing a talent shortage that is making it increasingly difficult for companies to find and retain qualified personnel. Quiet quitting, quiet hiring, everything has a buzzword that makes hiring and retaining talent that much more difficult. The demand for supply chain professionals is growing rapidly and there are not enough qualified candidates to meet this demand, and many companies struggle to fill open positions. 

Companies that are unable to find and retain talented supply chain professionals may face increased costs, lower productivity, and reduced competitiveness. In addition, the talent shortage could hinder innovation in the industry, as companies struggle to find the right people to lead new initiatives and drive change. 


What is Causing the Talent Shortage? 

Lack of Awareness About the Field  

There are less than 100 colleges and universities that offer supply chain management degrees. There is even less exposure at the community college and high school levels. Many people are unaware of the opportunities available in the industry while the importance of supply chains has only recently become the focus of public attention. This lack of awareness has led to a shortage of students pursuing degrees in supply chain management or related fields, which has contributed to the talent shortage. 


An Aging Workforce  

Many professionals in the supply chain industry are nearing retirement age, and there are not enough younger workers to replace them. This has introduced a supply chain skills gap, as experienced workers retire and take their expertise with them. That combined with a lack of proper training and documentation has caused a lot of industry knowledge to disappear. 


Upskilling to Match the Pace of Change 

While there is little exposure for supply chain careers, there is even less development of the technical skills necessary to not only get ahead, but also stay ahead. As supply chain processes become more complex and data-driven, companies need professionals with specialized skills in areas such as data analysis, digital logistics, and supply chain automation. However, these skills are in short supply within the talent pool and many companies are struggling to find candidates for these roles. 


Where to Find Qualified Candidates? 

The supply chain talent pool is incredibly small and everyone pulling from that pool makes the fight for top candidates much harder than it’s ever been. HR departments have had to get much more creative in finding the right candidate for the job. With many companies offering similar benefits and compensation, there has to be more to set strong companies apart. 


Strengthen an Internship Program  

One of the more creative solutions that have a long-term payoff is a strong internship program. A program that is more than just organizing copies, restocking the soda fridge, and making a few calls. Getting them entrenched in the company culture and giving them a crash course in the supply chain helps achieve the end goal of getting interns to return for another summer or part-time during the school year. After graduation, it makes perfect sense to hire them full-time as there is little to no training and on the first day they’re able to be a fully functioning member of the team. Working closely with universities or training programs is key to developing a stream of talent. 


Take a Closer Look at the Current Company Roster  

With technology, some of the supply chain skills gaps can be closed. Getting automation tools that enhance visibility frees up employees to do more value-added work with the time they have. Overloading employees isn’t helpful, but giving them the tools they need to be more successful and automate more mundane tasks can free them up to train others, improve processes, and generate additional revenue. 


Think Outside the Box  

Outside of an internship program, the best applicants lie at the competition or unlikely places like the government, hardware, fashion, retail, and pretty much anywhere that “thinking quickly on your feet” is a baseline job description. It’s all about creative recruitment to maintain the competitive edge. 


How to Retain Top Talent? 

The cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee's annual salary. That means an employee salaried at $60,000 will cost the company anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000 to hire and train a replacement. This cost could be even higher for highly trained positions. It could be up to 213% of their salary. 


Expanding Benefits 

Competitive compensation helps get people in the door, but not enough to keep them there. Most employees want to know that there is some type of workforce development. It’s more than just a strong benefits package, creating a supportive work environment that values diversity and inclusivity is key to retention. In a Society of Human Resource Management study the top 5 benefits employees rated as very important to them were: health-related(88%), retirement savings (82%), leave (82%), family care (70%), and flexible work (70%). 


Career Development 

Taking the time to have proper onboarding and training is part of that supportive environment. Employees also want a clear path to advancement. Waiting for a boss to retire or quit isn’t a strong career development plan. Recruitment isn’t easy and having a strong package to offer candidates makes the recruiter's job infinitely easier. 


The Rise of Outsourcing 

Outsourcing supply chain talent can offer several benefits to companies that are struggling to fill open positions or manage their supply chain operations effectively. The immediate access to talent that already has a basic understanding of the supply chain at a lower price cuts down the amount of time spent teaching someone the position and the industry. 

Most commonly entry-level positions such as operations support, track-and-trace are the easiest to outsource or event automate as the training time is much smaller with someone already familiar with the industry. More recently, some of the more technical roles such as developers, analysts, and project managers have been outsourced as the talent in other countries is easier to find and costs significantly less than in the U.S. 

Outsourcing supply chain talent provides companies with the flexibility to scale their operations up or down as needed. This can be especially beneficial for companies that experience seasonal fluctuations in demand or that need to respond quickly to changes in the market. It can also allow companies to focus on their core competencies and strategic priorities, rather than spending time and resources on managing supply chain operations. This can help to improve overall business performance and drive growth. 


Struggling to Close Your Talent Gap? 

The Redwood team has been coming alongside shippers and industry stakeholders for decades, including with transportation management services and automation solutions that can ease the burden on the transportation/logistics talent you do have and efficiently fill the gaps where you’re struggling. Let us help. 

Learn more about Redwood’s Managed services solutions to take the pressure off your team and optimize your operations in the process. 

And if you’re looking to enhance your supply chain career, explore Redwood’s career opportunities today, including remote and on-site opportunities.