Diversity in Procurement: Procurement’s Next Generation

As with many other professions, Procurement is rapidly approaching the time where the torch is passed to the next generation. But is the next generation ready for it?

There’s no escaping it, we’re all getting older. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the pace of population ageing is speeding up, meaning an increasing number of people heading towards, or even past, retirement age.

The WHO estimates that, between 2015 and 2050, the percentage of the world’s population over the age of 60 will almost double, from 12 percent to 22 percent. Some countries will feel this change more keenly than others. The UK, Germany and Finland all have higher than average percentages of an ‘aged’ population, while over 30% of Japan’s population are already over the age of 60.

An ageing population creates a number of societal issues (something that we will examine in another article), but it also has a huge impact on the global workforce. In Procurement, this poses a number of questions. Procurement was first considered to be a ‘strategic function’ in the early 1990s, meaning that the first generation of Strategic Procurement professionals is now reaching, or has passed, retirement age.

Be part of the next generation 

As procurement professionals, it’s essential to recognise that diversity goes beyond just gender and age; it also encompasses age diversity. Embracing age diversity within our teams is crucial for fostering innovation and driving success in the ever-evolving landscape of procurement. Different generations bring unique perspectives, experiences, and skills to the table, enhancing problem-solving and decision-making processes.

By valuing the contributions of professionals from different age groups, we can create a dynamic and inclusive work environment that promotes collaboration and nurtures talent across generations. Making a conscious effort to be part of the next generation of procurement professionals that champions age diversity and embraces the collective power of our diverse workforce.

So, there are plenty of people in Procurement to pick up the baton now, but what about the next generation after this, and the one to follow that too?

Focus on Post-Graduates

One key consideration is that, if there aren’t new professionals coming through the ranks, ready to pick up the mantle, who is going to bring new and innovative ideas into Procurement in the coming years? 

With regard to the available courses on, or including, Procurement as a key subject, there is a definite focus on post-graduate courses, diplomas and distance learning. A simple online search reveals thousands of matches around the world, with the list headed by well known and immediately recognisable universities and colleges.

When it comes to degrees in Procurement and Supply Chain, both CIPS and ISM offer accreditation with a number of global universities. There are around 100 CIPS accredited degree programs around the world, offering professionals the option of another route to achieving chartership and expanding their procurement knowledge.

However, there is a key drawback when it comes to these degrees and the distance learning – the majority of participants in these courses will be people who are already committed to Procurement as a career, rather than those coming to the profession for the first time. While this isn’t an issue in and of itself, it does highlight where procurement knowledge could be bolstered.

Schools and Undergraduates – The Missing Link?

The key to attracting people with these fresh ideas to roles in Procurement is partly down to awareness of roles and opportunities, but also dissemination of knowledge on what Procurement is and does, and why it makes for an attractive career. The starting point for this is in schools and universities.

Information on what schools can and do offer in terms of procurement is difficult to come by, though there are examples of courses and information made available by larger public bodies, like the Scottish Government. Without knowing for certain, there is a greater likelihood of schools offering general business courses, rather than subjects or units specific to procurement.

The same can be said at an undergraduate level, where courses that contain procurement as a specific subject are again hard to come by. There are university guides that show procurement as part of numerous courses, but upon further inspection it seems that many touch on procurement without offering the depth that might be required.

The Procurement Roadshow

With this in mind, how does Procurement, as a profession, get its name out there and attract school leavers and undergraduates? Here are some thoughts on how to kick this off.

  1. Careers Fairs

Accountancy, Engineering, Architecture – all professions that regularly pop up at careers fairs and university open days. So why shouldn’t Procurement do the same? CIPS and ISM, along with their members and other associations, could do likewise, getting themselves in front of school leavers and undergraduates who are yet to make a decision on where they want to go next.

  1. Procurement Week

We’ve got STEM week already, so let’s get Procurement week (well, maybe a couple of days at least!). There are plenty of Procurement professionals with children, family or friends at school. The next time there is a Careers Week at your school, push to get a place for yourself to talk about Procurement. We’ve all got stories about how good it is to work in this profession, as well as some of the weird and wonderful stuff we’ve bought, and awareness of jobs in the profession is just the first step.

  1. Open Days

Generally speaking Procurement does a very good job of sharing information and knowledge within the profession. But now is the time for this to be taken to a wider audience, attracting new people into Procurement roles and ensuring there is a flow of new thinking and ideas in the right direction. If we can collectively shine a positive light on careers in procurement, we put ourselves in a good position to set the profession up well for the future.

Constant challenges, evolving tech and increased C-suite visibility means it’s time for a procurement rewrite. Put your stamp on the future of procurement by teaming up with the Procurious community and sharing your knowledge on how to thrive in today’s “new normal”. 

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