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Supply chain advancing in tech, but struggling to attract young workers?



The supply chain industry in Asia Pacific is struggling to attract young talent.

Technology has changed the type of skillsets required in supply chain roles, but new research revealed the industry is not prepared for the advancement in tech.

Research conducted by Bastian Consulting, revealed that the overwhelming majority of respondents think graduates are unlikely to apply for roles in supply chain.  

Seventy-two per cent of respondents said graduates are more likely to explore roles in  sectors other than supply chain.

Why are young people avoiding jobs in a booming industry?

The survey of more than 500 supply chain executives from Australia, New  Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand, showed that 76 per cent of respondents say there is not enough  being done to raise awareness of the opportunities available in the supply chain. 

“Over the past 12 months, supply chain has made the headlines and made the public more  aware of its important role in society as well the major contribution it makes to the global economy. These results clearly show that the industry can do more to communicate the  diverse opportunities available in this growing and exciting sector,” Tony Richter, Founder of  Bastian Consulting said. 

“We’ve never been busier… it is a bit puzzling as to why the staff is not available” tony says.

Respondents were also in agreement that employers are not doing enough to engage with  young people, as 70 per cent said organisations are lacking in apprenticeships or graduate  recruitment program opportunities.

Industry needs to do more to “communicate the diverse opportunities available”

Tony Richter says that while there is a lot of investment going into  technology, the industry needs to do more to invest in raising awareness of the profession  as well as market the many opportunities available to young people.

“People use to think about logistics as warehousing and trucking, transport and forklifts. From a diversity perspective, it was almost entirely male driven”

Tony says.

Tony adds that the sector is on an evolutionary journey, but notes there is more work to be done in terms of the gender balance.

In New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Japan, the majority of survey respondents think there is a gender imbalance across the supply chain workforce.

On the contrary, just over half of respondents from Australia and Thailand do not think there is a gender  imbalance issue in the supply chain industry. 

How does supply chain tackle this?

“The tech side of supply chain see’s more gender balance. Not only supply chain, but the tech sector as a whole,” Tony says.

Interestingly, despite the perception that the supply chain sector is grappling with an ageing  workforce, less than half of respondents said there is an ageing workforce issue in  supply chain.  

However, he admits diversity in supply chain is going to be a long term journey,

“Typically in the warehouse and operational areas, that are really male dominant in terms of culture,” Tony says.

"There needs to be a lot of work around investing, encourage and welcoming in those environments. But it won't happen overnight" 

Technology is playing a huge role in supply chain and its changing the game

Just over  half of respondents said technology has changed the type of skillsets required in  supply chain roles. Respondents were more united in their view that the industry is not  ready for this change, as 68 per cent of respondents said that the industry is not prepared for the  shift in skillsets that will be required.  

Tony on the growth of digital supply chains.

Tony says AI and blockchain are a “huge” focus, especially when it comes to adapting the technology to supply chain.

“One of the big areas we’re seeing a lot of focus on right now is implementation and integration.”

Tony notes the opportunities in connectivity of multiple technologies, in a logistics or supply chain environment, is in demand.

“One of the biggest issues facing the supply chain industry is a lack of talent”

Tony says.

This is clearly  being felt across the entire APAC region.

“Creating an inclusive culture, equal opportunities and career development programs alongside a united effort to  demonstrate that this industry is more than just forklifts and warehouses, should be high on  the agenda for any business looking to attract new talent in this sector,” Tony concluded.  

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