Despite Brexit concerns, jobs in supply chains both here in the UK and globally are continuing to grow.
But the current skills shortage in some supply chain roles means that organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to fill positions – with one estimate putting six available supply chain management jobs for every one supply chain manager.
We are seeing an increase in retail category managers applying for procurement category manager roles when their skillset is just not up to scratch, so these specialised procurement roles are staying unfilled.
As a recruiter in the specific areas of supply chain management and procurement, I highly recommend international experience as a way into the more lucrative procurement, supply chain and logistics roles – and here’s why…
Supply chain jobs both here in the UK (supply chain jobs in the UK grew by 22% in 2017) and globally are on the rise.
While automation once threatened supply chain jobs, it has created a paradox where the early adoption of this technology has created jobs for people rather than making them obsolete. The paradox is similar to that described in this Ted talk by MIT professor David Autor on automation and employment – in which he describes how the invention of the ATM did not cut bank jobs; in fact, they increased from 250,000 in the 1970s to the 500,000 we have today.
The increase in demand for products faster and cheaper than ever before has meant that emerging markets, such as China, India and Southeast Asia don’t have the infrastructure in place to grow with demand.
While supply chain jobs enjoy growth in almost every country, developing countries, in particular, are struggling to find people who possess the right mix of local market knowledge combined with supply chain expertise.
A report released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences back in 2007 identified that domestic and foreign countries were struggling to find senior supply chain managers and trained logistics workers – and the situation has not greatly improved since then. A 2021 report entitled ‘Supply Chain – The Missing Link’ predicted that by 2015 a lack of talent would be one of the main issues in supply chain management, and as of last year it has started to crop up as one of the sector’s biggest issues.
The Chinese report urged universities to develop more specialised logistics courses to help with the shortage, and while there has been an increase in supply chain courses, such changes have yet to trickle down into the job market.
A recent CIPS spotlight involving 80 CPOs found that not only had 80% of them worked overseas at some point, international experience ranked as one of the most important recommendations in aiding procurement professionals to get to the top in their career.
Unanimously, CPOs stated that international experience allowed them to broaden their horizons, showed them how to operate in different cultures and taught them how to sensitively and effectively lead global teams.
Many of the CPOs interviewed highlighted just how important for your procurement career it is to get breadth while you are starting out. You should aim to narrow your procurement expertise as you get further into your career, so getting as much experience from a variety of roles at the start is crucial.
Nick Welby, global business service director, states “I’d encourage anyone to get that overseas experience… Managing multi-cultural teams in a different country teaches you to treat people as individuals, be humble and listen more than you talk. Dealing in Asia is different to the US, and Germany is different to Eastern Europe. It’s not one-size-fits-all, and you have to experience that.”
What Can You Gain from International Experience?
International experience is such a bonus for those who are in a position to consider it. When family life takes over, it is not always feasible to spend months away in a different country, and so if possible, you should be considering international supply chain projects as soon as you can, in order to further your career.
International experience will allow you to -
Become more culturally aware, of not just the supply chain but broader societal issues.
View the procurement process through the eyes of an international stakeholder.
Demonstrate dedication to your career.
Plus, it’s great life experience.
If you want to make to accelerate your career and want to discuss international supply chain, logistics and procurement opportunities – get in touch with Martin Veasey today. We are experts in supply chain and procurement recruitment with 50% of our recruitment activity coming from overseas.
About Martin Veasey Talent Solutions
At Martin Veasey, we have been working with blue-chip and SME businesses for over 35 years, both in the UK and around the world.
We are an independent consultancy company with highly qualified staff, including many degree and Masters educated consultants, with membership of professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the British Psychological Society.
We have unique expertise in hiring for senior roles in Board & Senior, Supply Chain & Logistics, Purchasing & Procurement, Manufacturing & Engineering, Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences, Sales, Human Resources, plus many more.
If you are looking to work with a high