The automotive supply chain is facing a massive talent shortage – and the situation is getting worse, according to research commissioned by DHL.
For every supply chain graduate, there are six positions waiting to be filled, says the report which is based on research by Lisa Harrington, president of the lharrington group and senior research fellow at the Supply Chain Management Center, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland.
It cites five alternatives that supply chain executives – and their companies – can employ to address this resource problem: industry collaboration, expanded in-house education options, job rotation programmes, formalised knowledge transfer, and employer-of-choice focus.
Frank Vorrath, vice president, Global Sector Head Automotive, DHL Global Forwarding, said: “For the automotive industry, the supply chain talent crisis is a house of cards ready to collapse. Solving it requires planning for the long term and building a talent investment strategy into the corporate culture.”
Alongside the changing labor market, the report notes a growing demographic gap, and shrinkage in the academic landscape focused on supply chain management as core reasons for the decline in talent. Furthermore, particularly students interested in the automotive sector consider a career in supply chain rather as a fallback option. Given this environment, the report states that companies operating in the automotive sector should look into adopting new strategies to recruit talent.
Harrington said: “The supply chain talent crisis is a serious issue for the automotive industry, particularly in emerging markets where growth rates remain strong. Many companies are already struggling with lack of infrastructure and skilled workforce in these countries, and the simultaneously increasing need for supply chain expertise further exacerbates these issues. Solving the talent shortage calls for new thinking, new approaches, and collaboration on an industry-wide scale.”
Harrington continued, that companies wishing to mitigate the supply chain talent shortage should intensify their collaboration with universities to create supply chain education programmes specifically for the automotive sector.
More companies should consider developing own education programs and expanding their in-house and external education options, as well as use formal job rotation programs as a means of growing and enriching young talent. Additionally, these same leaders could tap their soon-to-retire professionals to serve as educators and mentors – to transfer their specialist knowledge to the next generation of supply chain professionals. Finally, companies need to take steps to become “employers of choice”, making them more attractive to supply chain talent at all levels by providing robust career opportunities and benefits.
To address the supply chain talent gap, in 2013 DHL and the German logistics industry association BVL started an initiative called Corporate Automotive Logistics Academy 4.0 (CALA 4.0). The global educational program is designed specifically for professionals working in the automotive supply chain sphere. Its objective is to provide a global qualification program for automotive logistics professionals of the future. Structured in eight modules focused on different topics, CALA 4.0 offers a unique concept in cooperative, interactive knowledge creation as well as knowledge transfer and management for all areas and levels of global automotive logistics. After the first two modules have been successfully launched in Germany, DHL Global Forwarding will expand the program and offer it globally, with the third module to take place in Brazil this May.