Is it a lack of interest, do you think? Or is it a lack of knowledge about procurement?
Even now, the younger generation going through university and college only have a very high-level, superficial knowledge of procurement and supply chain, and what a career in the profession offers. What we need to be doing as a profession is engaging more with universities (those without procurement courses, as well as those with) to build the knowledge, and then sell the careers and graduate programmes that are on offer.
Procurement has only recently become strategically important to companies and the idea of it being a career hasn’t quite filtered through to the students that are currently entering the employment market.
I have a degree in International Business and none of the modules were about procurement, but Accountancy, HR, Marketing and Operations were all key parts of the study - can you see which one is missing? Once I graduated I tried both Sales & Accounts before luckily stumbling across procurement and finding the perfect fit for my skill set.
Purchasing / Procurement will become more popular over time, but we have to start educating people about it and separate it from just being a subsection of another department.
It is not a lack of interest! It is more about the returns on investing time and other resources pursuing a career in procurement at a young age. Majority of procurement jobs will go to individuals with a background/experience in the hiring industry, as opposed to someone with finesse in procurement. an IT company will prefer a buyer with fives years experience in IT and a certificate in procurement as opposed to someone with a masters in Procurement and a year's experience in IT. The reasonable thing therefore is to pursue a career outside procurement and hope to join procurement at a later stage. That in my opinion is what is driving interest in procurement down amongst younger people.
Hi Mubashar...A graduates view of a potential career in Procurement is similar to that of sales. It seems that most people who come to procurement (and sales) are found by the job and not vice versa. Until there is a strategic view of a career that has widespread potential for a seat at the 'C' table, many potentially great Procurement Executives will become accountants or similar. The career progression is unclear and the education opportunity at Tertiary level and beyond is sporadic and largely self referred (read CIPS). A great talent pool exists on the sales side of the ledger. If you are looking for young bright talent with initiative and problem solving capability matched with an ability to communicate that will benefit your department immeasurably, they are waiting for your call. They will offer a much greater diversity of thought than most who fall in to Procurement roles, even maybe offering a challenging point of view.
I'd agree with, Euan here.
Firstly, I'd like to say that I'd consider myself young and interested in the procurement field :)
I'm relatively new to procurement and I'm involved not in the traditional sense, but in a business development capacity for an eSourcing provider. Procurement was something I knew very little about before this role. Like Euan said, I believe that this stems from a lack of knowledge about procurement at University level or earlier. In my experience, I've also noticed that organisations seem to have a much higher focus on 'top line' efforts, rather than 'bottom line', or cost reductions, and consequently, there are many more job opportunities within a sales capacity than procurement, when starting out on the career path.
I disagree with the statement. I do think 'young people' are interested in procurement, after they find out what it involves.
Hi Mubashar, what the profession needs is young role-models to broadcast the benefits of a career in Procurement and attract more young people into procurement and supply chain. ISM and ThomasNet have a program just for this purpose, now in its third year: https://www.procurious.com/blog/in-the-press/30-under-30-recognising-supply-chain-rising-stars ... check it out.
I think there is an opportunity for procurement to appeal to young people by emphasising the impact that we can have on CSR related issues through our role in sourcing decisions. One of the career boot camps talked about taking your conscience to work, and showcasing the difference procurement can make in developing ethical and sustainable supply chains and not just focussing on cost reduction should enhance our appeal.
Euan, as a supply chain professional, we owe it to future generations to ensure a transition takes place. Another area for us here in Canada to effectively target to grow the knowledge of our craft is with the Human Resource departments as well as the university student bodies to provide as wide reaching base as we can in order to develop this new and relatively un-tapped potential.
I'm young-ish and in the beginning phases of a career pivot from non-profits to supply chain management. SCM was never really discussed when I was in school- undergraduate or graduate- as a possible career path. The closest we got in my business courses were accounting problems where we had to use LIFO and FIFO and whatnot to resolve imaginary shipping issues. I discovered the sector doing some personal assessments of what interested me with a career coach who suggested I research the industry. I felt like an entire universe opened up to me once I did so, hence the start of my career change journey!
If procurement took centre stage and began driving sustainability proper, younger people would take note. That means procurement getting under the skin of the suppliers and finding out why the carbon-intensity of each product being procured is not being cut dramatically, year on year. It is about procurement not accepting that slight adjustments and keeping close to busness-as-usual are good enough. It is about procurement driving uncomfortable change and challenging the status quo ... getting into the multi-stakeholder groups and driving new standards ... demanding new products that do less harm. It is about raising the bar every month, every quarter or whenever is really inconvenient. That means checking out the suppliers, using forensics on those that insist on status quo supplyism, and demanding improvement. There is not enough of (to paraphrase a well-known TV personality) "Supplier, you are the weakest link in our fast-greening supply chain, good bye". Procurement is too quiet. It needs to make its presence felt ... get into schools & explain how procurement is driving new designs of green goods and services through supply chains ... procurement needs to get noticed ... and that will get younger people excited ... to be in the place to be & to make a big difference.
Maybe its because of what Procurement is seen to stand for.. who wants to be part of a culture that relishes beating up suppliers and driving down pricing ?! If you want to attract new talent you need to make it worth doing, something new talent can be proud of telling their friends that they do. HOWEVER if procurement changed its imaging and started focusing on collaboration, unlocking innovation and driving business success then its taking the first steps to being "cool and interesting". The issue isn't with new talent, the issue is what your offering them to join!
If you invest in training up young professionals then I have found them to be receptive. If they are seen as agents just for cutting costs it can be seen to be a dead end job.
Is it that they are not interested or that as a profession we are not developing and growing the talent?
During a career that has spanned nearly 30 years I’ve seen a number of changes and trends in Procurement but the one thing that has remained static with some exceptions is the lack of schools, colleges and universities that provide career advice and push the opportunities of procurement as a key business profession. Most school and university leavers are unaware of our profession and/or its responsibilities within industry, so it comes as no surprise that new talent is not knocking at the door compared to that seen in functions such as sales, marketing and engineering.
One of the key things that we can all do as procurement leaders is to be more vocal in selling our profession and reinforcing procurement and supply chain management as a career choice. Our chartered institutes could do more to lobby educational reform and even look towards building procurement modules in business and economic courses within school and colleges.
If we cannot bring in new talent, then surely we must develop young and emerging future talent through mentoring. Should we go as far as saying that due to their recognition and accreditation that CIPS and ISM Fellows should be obligated or duty bound to be mentors?
Maybe not, but mentoring would enable senior and experienced procurement professionals to share their professional knowledge and experiences, thus helping to redefine and provide direction.
Amoung young people there is indeed a certain degree of lack of real understanding of different roles in a company. In some cases, an experienced Procurement professional could identify the potential of young people and direct them towards Procurement, encourage and support them in developing their career.
I think its a good thing. Young people should be dreaming of being rockstars or artists or pioneering scientists , lifesaving doctors, etc.
Then they can fall into Procurement when they realise its less soul-sucking than Sales or boring than Finance.
I also think that the lack of exposure is one of the reasons it seems as though young people are not in "procurement".
I, myself am an example. I am a 20 year old who is studying Logistics with Purchasing Management in Aston University. If it wasn't for someone mentioning Logistics to me, I would have been doing a generic Business or Accounting degree.
In an age of consumerism, I really believe that more young people than you know would be interested in procurement.
If you mean fresh graduates by the word "Young" then may be it's Ok. But i think young professionals with 2-3 years experience are rather more interested in Procurement than ever !