Chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) say the gap between today's skill sets and those needed in three to five years is enormous. Most view access to top-tier talent as a larger barrier to innovation than access to capital. It doesn't help that supply chains are challenged to compete for talent with companies that Millennials strongly identify with. This is especially true when it comes to recruiting for positions like data scientists and analytics talent. -John Johnson, Senior Content Specialist, Gartner
The supply chain has operated in relative obscurity for decades. In fact, today's generation of students, which represents a potential savior for a labor-strapped industry, know relatively little about the supply chain or the opportunities within it.
Making matters worse, most Millennial talent is attracted to companies that they identify with as consumers, such as Apple, Facebook and Google. The attraction to these firms, which carry a younger brand image and a natural Millennial vibe, further exacerbates the labor shortage in traditional manufacturing and supply chain organizations. This is especially true when it comes to recruiting data scientists and those with data analytics skill sets.
Many approaches exist to making your company more attractive to Millennial talent, roughly defined as those born between 1982 and 2000:
* Highlight the innovative projects that supply chain is involved with, such as autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, robotics and crowdsourcing.
* Emphasize the role that your supply chain plays with sustainability and social issues. Millennials have a high degree of interest in saving the world; nearly 80 percent of them say that having a job that makes a significant contribution to society is extremely important.
* Identify the specific benefits that will attract millennials. Although many don't give much thought to retirement plans at a young age, they do identify with financial incentives designed to help reduce college debt. Some companies are offering to help pay off student loans in lieu of a bonus. Be prepared to match the attractive salaries offered by tech firms if you want to hire the best.
* Place new hires with hard-to-find skills like data analytics or robotics in projects with visibility to leadership. This can have two benefits — one is retention but the other is validation of whether this strategy works for your organization. Does it cause other culture issues, do those folks still leave showing there are other deeper issues?
* Stress your supply chain's involvement with online retailing and the overall digital movement. Consider ads like those run by GE, featuring young people engineering cool products.
Alter the Traditional Career Path to Attract and Retain Millennial Talent
Despite the increased salaries earned by some professionals, many companies in supply-chain-intensive industries are not re-evaluating work environments and are reluctant to pay top salaries for top talent. Supply chain leaders who do not take action risk a costly exodus of staff, and will find it increasingly difficult to attract new and younger talent.
Traditional linear career paths span 15 to 20 years, starting at the tactical level and moving through standard managerial progressions. Candidates collect broader experiences and increasingly senior titles, culminating with an executive vice president or CSCO position. However, these progression ladders are limiting. In many cases, they take years to achieve, with employees "waiting their turn" for the next position.
Millennials do not have the patience or trust in companies to wait years for advancement. They need to see alternate or quicker paths, and be constantly engaged and challenged. Otherwise, they will seek out other opportunities, having sacrificed little. CSCOs must build career paths that promote associate engagement and rapid movement through the organization; many companies have already taken steps to program more lateral movement through rotation programs and special assignments.
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