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Three solutions to overcome procurement skills shortages

By Scott Dance, Director of Hays Procurement & Supply Chain

The Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2018 Guide paints a positive picture of activity plans in procurement for the coming months. We have found that over half of procurement employers expect their organisation’s activity to grow in the year ahead, regardless of market uncertainty, and 67% plan to hire in the same timeframe.

However, skills gaps have continued to manifest in the profession, with over three-fifths of employers telling us they have experienced moderate skills shortages in the last year compared to 55% overall in the UK. A further 16% have gone so far as to say they have faced extreme shortages.

I am therefore unsurprised to see that the top recruitment challenge for nearly three-quarters of employers continues to be a shortage of suitable applicants. With many procurement functions transitioning from a tactical to a strategic function in order to improve processes and drive better cost efficiencies, a gap in skills has the very real potential to hamper these plans.

Persistent skills shortages creating widespread impacts

One of the more alarming statistics gleaned from our survey is that half of employers have already seen an impact on the productivity of their team as a result of a lack of skills.

Procurement professionals are also feeling the pressure, with 45% of employers seeing a negative impact on the morale of their workforce due to skills gaps in their organisation. This is a troubling figure, and has the potential to further scupper activity plans. So how can employers overcome these challenges?

1. Make workforce planning a key strategic priority

Understand the range of workforce solutions which are available to you and consider the most appropriate options for your organisation. Be sure to factor in elements beyond immediate people needs, including risk mitigation and cost management, to put in place the most effective strategies for both the short and the long-term.

2. Invest in your employer brand

A strong employer brand can help you to stand out from other organisations, and therefore better compete for talent. A strong employee value proposition is vital to achieving this. Benchmark your salaries to ensure they are competitive, and combine these with a tailored benefits package that resonates with the skilled professionals you are seeking.

3. Utilise contingent workers for more than just projects

Traditionally, temporary, interim and contract workers have been used to supplement projects where specific skillsets are required, or to meet peaks in demand. However, using them to a greater extent can help to alleviate some of the pressure from your current workforce, allowing growth plans to be sustained, targets to be met, and improved job satisfaction of permanent employees. Changes to IR35 legislation need not be an issue, as long as you prepare now for the upcoming updates.

Find out further recruiting trends for the procurement profession, request your copy of the Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2018 guide.

To find out more, or to discuss your recruitment needs in this field, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Scott joined Hays in 2002 as a Trainee Consultant, and is now Director of Hays Procurement & Supply Chain. With over 15 years’ experience, Scott advises clients on workforce management solutions, works with the industry institute CIPS as a trusted knowledge partner, and provides strategic leadership to Hays’ procurement and supply chain recruitment experts.

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