Millennials & Procurement: Closing the Procurement Skills Gap

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Within procurement, efficiency is key. That efficiency is entirely dependent upon the level of skill of those attempting to enact procurement, both within the procuring authority as well as the supply chain entities. As seen in Procurement Landscape, closing the procurement skills gap through the development of training or standards for those practicing procurement is vital. While this standard development of processes and the cultivating of skills for those involved is a challenge, what will within the ten years be a larger challenge for procurement is its ability to appeal as a career path for millennials, and the ability to reconcile the approaches of the various generations.

Admittedly procurement is not a flashy career path, nor is it something one often encounters at career expos or within training programs. Yet currently the field has turned to millennials as a source of skill.

63% of procurement or supply chain employers state that they have expanded efforts to recruit new personnel into the field with the goal of increasing hiring in 2015-2016.[1] 

Additionally 85% of companies have changed HR policies in order to appeal to Millennials.[2]

Not only is filling the skills shortage by appealing to millennials a challenge, but once they join ‘en masse’ there will be a period of adjustment between the various generations involved in procurement. With estimates done in 2014 defining millennials as being roughly 75% of the global workforce by 2025, this adjustment in work styles will be integral to positive business development.[3]

In general, regarding work, 81% of millennials want to be able to control their own work schedules, with 37% stating that they would be willing to trade an amount of their pay for flexibility in their work schedules as well as their work location. They were raised as digital natives, and therefore it is not surprising that they value streamlined, technology and data driven efficiency with the majority feeling that tools such as tablet computing, cloud computing and virtual meeting rooms will become much more important in the workplace over this decade.[4]

Millennials have their own style of procurement with high reliance on data within their key decision making, which while it may be efficient in the long term, in the short term it may take more time to set up a system of data analysis that yields the insights they feel are necessary for strategic decisions to be made.

Millennials rely more upon the word of mouth reputation that companies or services have, allowing them to disregard the company or services’ attempts to impress them with numerous brochures, shifting the influence to face to face interactions with company representatives. Within this, millennials will have a tendency to go with the better established companies, potentially putting smaller businesses at a disadvantage if they do not have the resources to spare resources for either face to face interactions or building up a notable reputation.

Overarching within their work style, millennials and generation X view collaboration as vital, with 56% and 64% respectively stating that they make better business decisions through collaborations, as opposed to the typical work style of baby boomers who are more likely to work best in isolation, giving voice to such.[5]

Ultimately, if millennials do not see a clear career path within a particular company or in procurement as a field, even if they are attracted to procurement at the offset, they will be difficult to maintain as employees.[6]

Within the field of procurement, all need to come to terms with the inevitability that millennials are necessary given the current skills shortage, and with the emergence of millennials into the field the processes of procurement will change.

Read ACE’s Procurement Landscape here.


[1] http://www.procurementleaders.com/news/news/junior-procurement-and-supply-chain-staff-in-demand-survey-finds
[2] http://www.hrpolicyfoundation.org/
[3] Ibid
[4] http://www.slideshare.net/Ariba/millennial-v5
[5] http://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/cgi-bin/ssialias?subtype=XB&infotype=PM&appname=GBSE_GB_TI_USEN&htmlfid=GBE03658USEN&attachment=GBE03658USEN.PDF#loaded
[6] Ibid

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About Author

Natasha Levanti

Natasha Levanti is the Group Communications Executive representing the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE). As a leading trade association in the consultancy and engineering industry, founded in 1913. ACE promotes the critical contribution that consultants and engineers working in the build and natural environment make to the nation’s developing infrastructure.