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Where is the next generation of procurement talent coming from?

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Richard Shelley development, talent, hiring...

Few firms outside of major employers like Airbus and Nestlé put enough effort into developing their own internal talent and instead rely on professionals ‘falling’ into the industry from other fields. That was the result of an analysis which looked at almost 150 of our FTSE 250 client list and which found that only just under a third (32%) had formal training programmes for the procurement function.

Developing procurement talent

In almost every other business discipline there is a much greater focus on developing talent internally than there is in procurement. A few of the major employers have their own programmes, but often firms end up hiring those who have fallen into the function from other areas of the business.  This isn’t a sustainable approach and with the numbers of students studying procurement-related courses at university falling, something needs to be done – and soon.

Some employers say they don’t want to waste the time, money and effort developing graduate talent only for them to leave at the first opportunity, but surely it benefits the entire industry to provide the best possible, fully trained staff to the workforce? It’s then up to your firm to treat them well enough and offer them opportunities so that they would want to stay.”

Lessons in talent development from Manchester United

A good example is the analogy of Manchester United football club– not the global billion-pound version of today, but the club that developed a number of world-class players during the 1990s. Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, the Neville brothers and, of course, David Beckham led the team to new heights over the following two decades, winning numerous trophies. Each also went on to play international football. Although Beckham, Butt and Phil Neville eventually left, the remaining three remained loyal to the club, highlighting the ongoing benefits of nurturing and developing internal talent. Many of today’s organisations could learn from this approach!

Investing in Talent

By developing innovative and robust training programmes that provide a clear pathway through the organisation for procurement specialists, it’s likely that more employers will be able to tackle their workforce solutions more effectively. They will also be able to attract more high-potential people to what is still a relatively closed and insular market. It’s an investment, but a worthwhile one that can bring long-lasting benefits to procurement teams.

Visit our practice areas for details of how we can help source the best procurement talent – or if you are looking for your next role do visit our jobs page.