A question of time
Last year’s Barclay Meade Tracking UK recruitment report showed that 82% of supply chain and logistics firms were recruiting at 2007 levels, and for what’s been referred to as the fastest growing profession around, this wasn’t the best of news.
If it really is, as CIPS past president David Smith said, the fastest growing profession around, then pretty soon there’s going to be a growing number of vacancies courtesy of what’s euphemistically termed “natural wastage”.
So, how do we fill those vacancies – and, more importantly, fill them with quality candidates?
Smith’s assertion that if you spoke to a twenty-year-old about procurement, purchasing or buying as a career they wouldn’t know what you were talking about does seem to have hit home.
But this summer’s visits to London schools by Paul Darlington – procurement production manager for Crossrail – hints that if we’re patient, the next generation of twenty-year-olds might just be a little better informed.
“Usually”, he said, “they’re quite fascinated,” he said. “I always say procurement is a posh word for buying. We all do it every day. It’s just understanding what it is and when you get to the big stuff, it gets a bit more complicated. I tell them: ‘If you’re interested in any field in the world there will be procurement behind it’.”
So the word is being spread to the right people – at least they’ll be the right people in ten to fifteen years.
And as they grow up with the idea of shopping as a career let’s hope we won’t be seeing a new generation – fresh out of full-time education – of robotic operatives hunting down the best deals with the unerring aim of a heat-seeking missile.
Because there’s more to getting the best deal than turning a blind eye to dodgy dealings a few links down the supply chain. Case in point? Hast thou bought thyself a frozen ready-meal lasagne recently? Neigh? There you go.
One school of thought says that there’s a need for formal licensing for procurement and supply professionals, to demonstrate that the licensed individual is adhering to best practice and that there’s more than what could often be seen as just a mere whiff of accountability involved.
Another school of thought runs sort of parallel to those lines, in that if higher academic standards were implemented within procurement and supply, the result would be better quality candidates being attracted to the profession.
So until those London school pupils get qualified and perhaps even licensed, we’ve got ten to fifteen years during which to find intelligent trainees with a sense of responsibility … and we’d better start looking now.