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The Talent Crisis in Procurement

We were lucky enough to join one of the Procurement Leaders webinars on the talent crisis in procurement. This was a truly thought-provoking session, with guest speakers including Simon Geale (VP Client Solutions at Proxima), Bernhard Raaschke (Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry International) and Zach G. Zacharia (Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management) who gave different perspectives on the crisis at hand. Our blog today will look at some of the different points raised and what this means for the procurement industry.

Over the years, procurement has seen a shift from traditional requirements to a more strategic approach. As business needs have developed, there has been a greater necessity to upgrade the talent and methodology surrounding procurement. As Steve Hall, Director of Content and Community at Procurement Leaders put, “what got us here will not get us to where we want to be”. Predictions have even been made that, by 2020, over one-third of the workplace skills that are considered necessary will change. Soft skills are becoming more of a focus over technical talent, with negotiation, emotional intelligence, and creativity skills being viewed as a future imperative of all procurement professionals. Why? Well, it is not that the past skills aren’t still necessary, as they are, but with greater diversity in role requirements and responsibilities comes an increase in essential skills and a need for a more holistic approach to the role. It is not only necessary to effectively use data and analysis provided by AI & BI, but procurement professionals also need to know how to effectively negotiate based on that data, to be able to build successful relationships to support those negotiations and to be creative and take risks when developing and implementing change. These aren’t qualities that would have been automatically looked for in the past. So where can they be found now? Are these skills latent in current employees, or do we need to adopt a new form of teaching for those training in the procurement profession?

Equipping the next generation is, without doubt, key in helping shorten the talent gap in procurement. If skill sets are constantly changing alongside the economic environment and market industries, then education and training need to be adaptable too. Zach G. Zacharia notes that millennials, the predominant age group in the jobseeker’s category, require different teaching methods and seek a greater purpose in their learning. Whist the foundational technical skills need to be covered, softer skills need to be engrained throughout their training and in a way that best suits their learning style, so that they are in a prime position come employment and are prepared to adjust to an ever-changing environment. However, at the same time, businesses need to consider how they will keep this newly generated talent in their company. Millennials aren’t just looking for a steady income when considering a role, they want a competitive salary, the potential for growth, global opportunities, a flexible work/life balance, and inspiring leadership. Companies will be forced to step up to the plate to secure the top talent in the procurement field and thrive as a result.

It would be a mistake to believe that the talent crisis in procurement is a new issue, it isn’t, but it certainly is increasing and isn’t reserved to just the procurement professions. A new Korn Ferry study predicts that, by 2030, there will be a talent crisis across the whole economy, with a potential gap of 85 million people. Resolving the issue is fundamental to the function and resulting success of not just the procurement teams we are addressing now, but the economy as a whole.

Procurement as an industry and a profession has expanded in the last five to ten years. Companies now see the financial value that comes with having people effectively and efficiently manage their supply chains. Combine this expansion with the growing responsibilities, qualifications surrounding procurement roles, it is little wonder companies have struggled to find the necessary talent. This is where enlisting the services of a recruitment company can benefit businesses. At Boston Hale, our procurement desk has an enviable network of professionals, including passive candidates, who may have the right skill set that you are looking for. If you need help recruiting for procurement positions, why not contact our Head of Procurement, Jon Pollard, at jpollard@bostonhale.com