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Addressing Staff Shortage in SCM

A common complaint I have in discussions with industry peers is that they have difficulty hiring people and meeting their department’s labour demands. Like the demographics of many developed countries, Canada’s baby boomers, which are beginning to retire, outsize subsequent generations and is creating a supply gap in labour. While providing good salaries, benefits, and having strong company reputation/culture play a role, extra effort will be needed to close this gap.

Understand and Align with Foreign Credentials

Canada will be relying on immigration to meet labour demands. Government policy recognizes this and industry must provide support to transition newcomers to onboard them to take advantage of their skills and abilities. If steps to transition are clear and fair, it can also encourage more even more skilled workers to choose Canada as a place to work.

Hire Behavioural Attributes

Managers understand the complexity of their jobs and some overly focus on technical skills and experience when hiring. However, from my point of view, character and willingness to learn will beat talent and existing skills any day. Skills are much easier to acquire than having to change a bad attitude. Giving good people a chance and then having a good training system and resources in place may give you surprising results.

Embrace Technology

There are a lot of exciting technologies being developed. Automation of physical, clerical, and even knowledge work are increasingly valid options to replace human labour. I won’t get into specifics in this area as I have a section of posts dedicated to technologies affecting supply chains.

Streamline Operations

Much of supply chain management’s goal is increasing efficiency. The odds are that you can achieve the same objectives and outcomes with less effort. Like technology, this is obviously another topic that cannot be covered in one post. Two prevalent approaches are lean manufacturing and six sigma.

In the book Bullsh!t Jobs: A Theory, author David Graeber, suggests that some jobs (flunkies, goons, duct tapers, box tickers, and taskmaster) are providing little to no value for the time and effort being spent. While not my all views are the same as the authors, it does take integrity for us to recognize that we or our coworkers sometimes have elements of BS in our roles and take action to address them.

Make the Supply Chain Career More Attractive

I will bet my bottom dollar that most supply chain professionals my age and older fell into the profession rather than choosing it early in life. There is a need to raise the profile of the supply chain sector as a whole. As a profession, we are competing for talent with other professions. When we build the profession’s reputation and organizations recognize the value that we bring, the profession will increasingly become a career path of choice for more students and young people. Volunteer for your local supply chain professional association and be an advocate for the field. This may not be a short-term solution or directly benefit your current needs but it will pay dividends in the long-term.



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