When it comes to supply chain positions, what makes the Generation Y any different from the rest of employment seekers?
Among the topics that routinely come up during conversations of the shifting and multi-generational workforce is the rise of the Millenial, also known as Generation Y. This term usually refers to those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. Discussion often arises regarding Millennials in the supply chain job market, their experience entering the profession and what it’s like to recruit them.
So why is this topic so interesting? And what makes Millennials any different from the rest of the market?
To start, it’s really tough for this new generation to enter the employment market. There are very few companies that are willing to invest in and take the chance on a new supply chain candidate with little or no experience. There are a few out there and to you employers taking the chance on new graduates and inexperienced candidates, I take my hat off to you, as you are a life line to the future of the supply chain profession. However, the majority of employers prefer more experienced candidates who will need less training and development. To add to this, it has been an employer-driven market since the 2008 recession, which makes employers more particular in their candidate choice. New technology like Indeed and LinkedIn give employers access to a wider, global candidate marketplace, which means they have more choice.
There are a few more options from an education entry point than previous generations, with degrees in supply chain management offered at institutions such as Sheridan, Humber and Seneca colleges, as well as McGill University, to name a few. However, these tend to be newer degrees and do not seem as popular as other, more traditional degrees. Like most of us in the profession, Millennials never dreamed as a child of being in supply management—it was a topic they discovered when entering the workforce—therefore, many Millennials looking to get into the field have a degree or diploma that has nothing to do with supply chain.
What I have also noticed is that many purchasing and supply chain professionals from previous generations entered the market in the manufacturing or distribution sector, usually as a purchase order processor, an inventory controller or as a warehouse person. Careers then developed and dispersed from there. However, in the 2008 recession, Canada’s manufacturing sector took a hard hit and it could be argued that it’s taken longer to bounce back compared to other sectors. A lot of Canadian manufacturers now outsource to low-cost countries, which leads to less job opportunities and less entry positions for Generation Y candidates.
All of these factors mean most Millennials are trying to enter the supply chain job market with no experience, no relevant education, less opportunities and in a more competitive global candidate marketplace.
The good news for this generation is once in the industry with a few years under their belts, Millennials may be at a competitive advantage compared to other generations. There also seems to be challenges and misalignments with different generations within the workforce.
I can only comment on what I see in today’s recruitment market. However, there does seem to be a trend of movement within the millennial supply chain and procurement candidate community. Competing companies are specifically targeting and headhunting these candidates. As I mentioned, there are only a handful of companies that invest in raw supply chain talent. Other companies’ HR and recruitment teams specifically target these candidates with a few years’ experience as they are viewed as young and ambitious, with a lot of career and progression potential, but require less training and development.
I have heard comments that Generation Y is an “entitled” generation who expect seniority, progression, higher salary and responsibility early without necessarily earning the privilege. If this is true, it may not be their fault in our industry. These candidates are targeted, contacted, wooed and offered more senior positions, at more pay, with more responsibility very quickly. Some candidates will try to go to their existing employers to see if they can get the same deal. This is why they may seem “entitled”. Even if they have not been headhunted, they probably have a friend, ex-school chum or peer who has been approached and offered an enticing opportunity.
Luckily, there are resources out there like PurchasingB2B’s online salary calculator—sponsored by SCMA and HSBC—that can educate this generation as to their realistic worth. However, there are still some candidates with high expectations. This leads them to become unsatisfied in their current positions. I see a significant number of Millennials in the supply chain community leaving the industry to work in completely unrelated careers. I am sure this can be said for all other professions including marketing, finance, HR and so on, however these careers are more popular with the millennial generation. Therefore, when someone leaves supply chain, the impact is greater.
Although it is tough for Generation Y, it is also not easy for other generations. The baby boomers, approaching retirement, are having a tough time. Even though this generation is coming to the twilight of their careers, they still have a lot to offer and people are working longer now. However, as can happen within our profession: layoffs occur, restructures, outsourcing, completion of strategic projects, mergers and acquisitions, transformations etc. I see a significant number of baby boomers still some way away from retirement finding it hard to re-enter the job market. Although it is a tough place for Gen Y, they are not unique and we all have our ups and downs during our careers and job searches.