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The Big Q – How does procurement acquire tomorrow’s talent?

CPO Strategy

This issue’s Big Question uncovers how procurement can encourage the talent of tomorrow into the function’s workforce amidst a talent shortage.

Procurement’s talent shortage isn’t new information.

Demographic shifts, the Great Resignation and strong competition have meant significant gaps in the workforce for not only procurement but industries beyond too. Although the Covid pandemic is now four years old, its effects are still being felt. Despite signs of stability over the past 12-18 months, Forbes reported last year that turnover rates and inflation remains high while large percentages of employees remain disengaged and interested in making a move.

Procurement’s talent shortage story

It all comes back to demographic shifts. You see, the large Baby Boomer generation have nearly all retired in recent years. This has meant the equally large Millennial generation has moved past entry-level roles and is now filling mid-level ranks. But the smaller Generation Z isn’t big enough to meet the number of entry-level roles. Generation X, while also comparatively small to Baby Boomers and Millennials, isn’t large enough either to fill the leadership gap left by the Boomers.

Indeed, a recent survey of over 100 procurement leaders from research and advisory giants Gartner discovered only one in six procurement teams felt they had adequate talent to meet their future needs. It comes as industry demands continue to grow and evolve amid digital transformation’s ever-growing grip on the function. In the report, Fareen Mehrzai, Senior Director Analyst in Gartner’s Supply Chain Practice, said: “Procurement leaders are generally confident in the current state of their talent and the ability to meet their near-term objectives. However, our data shows that chief procurement officers (CPOs) are worried about the future and having sufficient talent to meet transformative goals based around technology, as well as the ability to serve as a strategic advisor to the business.”

So, how does procurement go about solving the problem?

Procurement’s way forward

Anthony Payne, Chief Marketing Officer at HICX, believes that in order to attract talent, procurement must show it has transitioned from being the ‘spend police’. “To attract talent, Procurement must show that it has progressed away from being the ‘spend police’ and towards a more multifaceted role,” explains Payne. “Modern procurement is at the intersection between a company and its suppliers, which requires a broader skillset. The function has an opportunity therefore to attract talent from different roles, in particular technology – today’s function needs people who can combine tech savviness with procurement and commercial acumen, to get the most out of the exploding tech landscape. Supplier marketing – because companies can no longer simply insist that suppliers comply with any request, they need to engage and encourage suppliers to adopt new tools and ways of working. This will require marketing-type skills.”

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