New research reveals supply chain skill gaps

supply chain

Deakin University’s Centre for Supply Chain and logistics has identified four main challenges to current recruiting in supply chain.

The University’s Wayfinder: Supply Chain Careers for Women program – which aims to create a diverse talent pipeline for the sector – explored the issue from the perspective of company executives and senior government officials.

Dr Hermione Parsons, Director CSCL and Dr Roberto Perez-Franco Senior Research Fellow, interviewed 21 senior executives from Australia’s industry and government about ongoing challenges and the impact of recent events on the ability to recruit and retain the workforce required for today’s supply chain sector.

“Add the disruption to global networks because of the COVID 19 pandemic and you have the perfect storm,” Hermione says. “An increase in e-commerce and closed borders may have exacerbated it, but the problem was already there. Furthermore, shortages are not just for products or freight transport, but also for people, and the problem is far more complex than a shortage of truck drivers.”

The researchers identified four challenges to recruiting in supply chain: poor industry image, education gaps in the candidates they interviewed, poaching of staff between industries and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest skills gaps were in truck driving, robotics, and data analytics.

“Perceptions may be shifting, but traditionally supply chain has been a ‘Cinderella sector’ and often invisible,” Hermione says. “If graduates are aware of the sector at all, they see it in terms of dirty warehouses and hi-vis vests, and most ‘fall into it’ rather than actively pursue a career.”

The research highlighted the degree to which the modern logistics workforce must learn new skills and constantly adapt to new ways of doing things.  There is an expectation they will be tech-savvy and comfortable operating in a more automated, digitally enabled environment and it’s a challenge that not all are prepared for.

“It will be critical to sell the next generation of supply chain workers on challenges and opportunities of a career,” she says. “As well as the salary, millennials are looking for career paths that are both rewarding and flexible.”

Recently, Bastian Consulting revealed skills in inventory management and the ability to communicate effectively could be the answer to a six figure salary, reaching up to AUD $500,000 per year.

The full report is available to download via the Wayfinder website.

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