As we approach the tail end of 2019, it is evident that uncertainty still looms over many UK industries. Hiring the right procurement and supply chain professionals continues to prove a challenge for businesses as talent is in high demand; the number of adverts targeting workers is 219% higher than the UK average but roles attract far fewer candidates. Political/economic uncertainty has had a negative impact on candidate confidence and there are now more professionals choosing to ‘sit tight’ in their current roles. So, how can you attract the very best talent to enter the job market?
The procurement and supply chain sector has long been anticipating the effects of AI and automation on opportunities for professionals in the industry. What has been found is that these technologies present a wealth of new opportunities for businesses to improve processes and drive efficiencies. Despite this, a recent report by Ivalua has revealed that two-thirds of UK businesses are still reliant on manual and paper-based procurement processes. This is estimated to be costing UK businesses on average £1.94m each year.
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We know that there are big changes needed for the sector, but what does this mean for talent and what skills will be required to drive procurement businesses forward?
Navigating an uncertain market
As touched on earlier, instability in the market caused by ongoing negotiations between the UK and EU has been an ongoing challenge for businesses in the sector. In August, the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) dropped from 48 in July to 47.4 which is the lowest level since July 2012. This is a reflection of a sharp reduction in new orders across consumer, intermediate and investment goods industries.
In the current economic climate Procurement and supply chain, professionals skilled and able to deliver sustainable cost savings remain key. When hiring, employers constantly ask professionals to demonstrate these skills in terms of:
• Operational supply chain experience
• Contractual negotiation
• Exposure/understanding of manufacturing
Adapting in an ever-increasingly automated landscape
For those businesses that are embracing new tech in the sector, professionals will be relieved of some of the many laborious and monotonous tasks that can fill a typical day. This frees employees to focus on the more strategic and tactical aspects of their role. The rise of and access to big data in the sector will require these professionals to better understand data and work with other business functions to improve processes utilising this insight.
Considering this, professionals in the sector now require a deeper understanding and capabilities in the following areas:
• Analytical skills
• Collaboration with internal and external stakeholders
Driving the procurement agenda
With many UK procurement and supply chain functions still relying on outdated processes, it is feasible to suggest that procurement is not being given a seat at the table or contributing to strategic planning to meet business objectives. Professionals at the senior level in the sector strongly believe that this is a mistake and to drive better business efficiencies it is fundamental to have CPOs on the board. Where this is done correctly, purchasing and supply chain functions are seen as adding value rather than the departments that “spend too much cash.” To help drive the agenda and better raise the agenda for procurement and supply chain, professionals will need more transferable skills in the following areas:
• Relationship building
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Operating Director, Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain