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“Out of the box” thinking needed to address supply chain skills shortage

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And to bridge the gap, organisations must “begin to think outside the box” by employing professionals and graduates “with specific skills and capabilities that meet clear business objectives”, says Liz Howat, head of scprime® at Crimson & Co. 

These thoughts were inspired by a CBI report, which underlined the importance in strengthening the British supply chain industry, identifying a number of core areas for investment, which could potentially generate £30bn for the British economy.

A key facet to addressing the skills shortage is by placing a greater emphasis on the need for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates. These feelings were echoed by the Deputy Prime Minister who recently announced plans to boost British manufacturing supply chains in 2015 by tackling issues such as innovation and industry skills gaps. 

Howat states that while investment in staff is crucial for the long term future of the sector, in order for it to be effective, firms need to be prepared to re-evaluate the traditional type of candidates it attracts and instead identify potential employees and graduates that have the skills and capabilities that align with the needs of the business.

“While it’s encouraging to see the industry and the British Government acknowledging concerns about skills shortages, it must be prepared to think outside the box in order to address the problems,” she said.

“Sticking to a set type of employee can potentially have a detrimental impact on the future of your business. To address this organisations must now begin to think beyond conventional candidate specifications and instead focus on employing people that have developed specific skills, which can ultimately support business objectives.

“Expanding on the standardised job descriptors and broadening the search process opens up organisations to a greater range of candidates that have transferable skills which can be adopted into new roles, and this is the mindset the supply chain industry needs to adopt if it is to address the current industry skills shortage.

“On paper the theory behind this is obvious, the problem, however, can be when it comes to putting it into practice. The reality is that when it comes to searching outside the box people naturally gravitate to what they know and in order to ensure this doesn’t happen firms can turn to technology.

“Business toolkit’s are readily available within the marketplace that provide objective assessment around people capabilities in order to ensure that the right people are in the right jobs, and therefore consistently doing the right things. 

“By harnessing the power of technology it reduces the subjective – organisations can understand what they need and more importantly what they don’t, in order to align with the processes and objectives of the business,” Howat concludes.

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