Part II: The widening chasm between talent and skill gaps
This is the second of a three-part article on the three primary aspects to global trade in 2022.
The following is an excerpt from the 2022 edition of Global Trade report from global information agency Thomson Reuters:
“The rapidly evolving regulatory, technological, political, and business environment in which global trade professionals operate has created a conundrum for companies seeking to hire into these positions. Specifically, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to find professionals with the right set of skills to meet their needs.”
Over three-quarters of respondents to a survey conducted by Thomson Reuters found that the ‘rapid evolution of the industry has made it made difficult to fill key roles’, with close to the same number agreeing that there does indeed exist a definite skills gap with regard to the specialised abilities and knowledge required for effective management in global trade. In fact, almost half the companies surveyed were considering outsourcing roles in order to fill skill gaps.
This is in fact, not unexpected.
The expanded scope of the responsibilities involved in supply chain management and global trade now require analysts and researchers to be ‘savvy negotiators’, staying up to speed with global politics, economic and regulatory policies, understanding strategic and legal aspects of business as well as, and perhaps above all, have the ability to adapt to new technologies.
As Thomson Reuters puts it, “be confident enough to advise leaders about global business strategy and supply-chain risk. Further, they must do all this while managing the daily variables of international transport and delivery.” Some of the aspects to be stressed upon, agreed upon by the experts, are communication, leadership, business strategy and logistics management.
“These roles are big, important jobs to fill, and the industry is working hard to improve the infrastructure and communication necessary to develop top-quality talent,” writes Thomson Reuters. “Indeed, 91% of respondents agreed that industry knowledge sharing is crucial for nurturing an effective global trade and supply-chain talent pipeline.”
Efforts to improve this have started right from the grassroot level, with over half the companies polled in the survey agreeing on the need to recruit new talent ready to be trained into professional work. Research has found college graduates are especially in demand in companies generating under $100 million in annual revenue – over 70% of said firms recruit from universities and colleges.
When it comes to hiring new talent, several traditional modes of talent acquisition are still in vogue. These include training logistics providers, customs brokers or workers in other supply chain roles to take up positions of greater responsibility higher up the corporate ladder. Thomson Reuters writes:
“Interestingly, 46% of company respondents also said that accounting and consulting firms (primarily the Big Four) have also become a ready pool for skilled talent, due primarily to the growing importance of technical acumen, data analytics, and strategic cost-control in the industry”
Outsourcing has turned out to be a major option, especially for companies in the UK and EU, who very recently have even restored to choosing the option over hiring full-time employees. Outside these, less than one-third of those surveyed in most other locations have resorted to outsourcing, of which most were firms with over $100 million annual revenue.
Research has found, “more than half (51%) of companies from the Asia-Pacific region also cited government and regulatory agencies as potential sources for new hires, whereas only 11% of respondents from Latin America thought hiring government agency personnel was a good idea. The US, EU and UK all fell somewhere in between, at 26% and 31% (EU and UK combined) respectively, on the idea of persuading government personnel to jump to the corporate side.”
[Continue reading in Part III on the state of adoption of automation in global trade technologies]
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