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Talent Drought Leads to Career Opportunities

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE | 0 | 0 | July 03, 2014



How does your company recruit the talent it needs at all levels to meet the organization’s strategic goals? Perhaps you’ve been fortunate enough to have people with the skills and knowledge necessary to lead your production and supply chain into the future. Or, if you’re facing the same challenges as many companies today, you’re finding it difficult to prepare for what one Harvard Business Review blog writer calls “the looming talent drought.”

In the article, Claudio Fernández-Aráoz estimates that only a minority of American and European businesses have the qualified leadership necessary to thrive in the future. His research firm, Egon Zehnder, is studying the question. It has determined there are three primary factors influencing competition for managerial talent at today’s businesses. These are globalization, demographics, and leadership pipelines.

Thanks to globalization, Aráoz argues, people need to reach across greater and greater distances from their home markets to find and keep the right people to help them meet business objectives. Most commercial growth is occurring in developing areas, and business leaders are focusing more of their efforts in these regions. Finally, companies in these emerging areas are increasing in size, number, and competitiveness, which means the fight for acquiring talent on a global scale is intensifying.

Next, the author examines how shifts in demographics are contributing to the hiring crunch. The 35-to-44-year-old age bracket is the target zone for finding senior executives, but that segment is shrinking. Aráoz estimates that the pool of candidates will be cut by nearly half for senior leadership in the coming years. This problem does not just affect the United States and Europe—research from Ernst & Young indicates that countries such as Russia, Canada, South Korea, and China soon will have more retirees leaving the workforce than people entering.

Finally, Aráoz points to a factor that he believes is not well understood by today’s business leaders: inadequately developing leadership pipelines. Only about one-fifth of executives see their pipelines as showing promise and find it easy to attract strong talent. The likely culprit is a lack of the right skills.

It’s not just managerial talent that’s becoming harder to come by, of course. I recently read a Brookings Institution study that looked at hiring practices in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, which found that STEM job vacancies took about twice as long to fill as non-STEM jobs. For those of us in supply chain and operations management, of course, this is indeed concerning.

Learning the tools of the trade

The key is to adopt a strategy that can put you at an advantage over your competitors. Companies need to focus on attracting, developing and retaining talent. This goes well beyond the technical skills and into areas such as career plans, mentoring and succession planning. For individuals with the right skill sets this is good news; it’s a great time to boost your own professional development and advance your career. The most recent APICS Operations Management Employment Outlook report, conducted by the APICS research team in conjunction with the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, indicates that earning the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) and Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designations increases compensation by 18 and 8 percent, respectively. It also results in about a 78 percent favorable impact on the hiring decision.

APICS also is focused on developing and building managers and leaders. Through our recent merger with the Supply Chain Council (SCC), we are stepping up our career development efforts for both current and aspiring managers. One way to start is by attending APICS 2014, this October 19–21, in New Orleans, which will have a dedicated supply chain professional leadership learning path. This is a great way to acquire some of the skills you need to effect change from the top at your organization.

APICS and SCC will continue to address the needs of aspiring leaders and supply chain managers alike. Be sure to visit our website for the latest details.

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