The Supply Chain Talent Market

When we talk about the talent market for supply chain jobs, it is almost impossible to avoid talking about the Covid-19 pandemic. Although now slowly fading into the past, its influence on the working landscape in supply chain, warehousing, and order fulfilment is immense.

For example, you cannot expect to be able to grow an ecommerce operation without being abreast of the logistics industry. Moreover, that industry requires a range of skilled roles in order to work efficiently. In recent times – and still, to some extent, today – the supply chain talent market has been skewed heavily in favor of graduates and recruits.

The covid-19 pandemic only solidified this position that the supply chain job market found itself in. Shipping and Handling, a Texas last mile delivery service, experienced a massive increase in workload during the pandemic. The reason for this was that with so many people secluded at home, the need for remotely delivered goods spiked. This was, naturally enough, good news for ecommerce companies, but only those that could manage the challenges.

And what challenges were those? Well, an increased order load is one thing, but Covid also had the effect of closing all locations where workers or members of the public would congregate. Millions left the workplace throughout the worst months of the pandemic, and some even caught Covid itself. The result of this was an over encumbered supply chain industry working with less available staff. You can see then where the problems arose from.

Supply Chain Jobs and Automation

The challenges posed to the supply chain industry by covid never once managed to totally shut it down. A big part of the reason for this was the influence of automation, which is a technological trend (long predating covid) that the pandemic only encouraged. There are still many necessary manual jobs in warehouse management and order fulfilment, but many more have been taken over by automation systems.

Warehousing involves a lot of manual labor and the moving of heavy goods from A to B, but it is also a discipline that involves a great deal of data and information too. Orders must be ordered, tracked, logged, and delivered, and warehouses need to make sure they have enough available space for specific order loads. All these data jobs have been successfully taken over by automation, and this has been something which has skewed warehouse work towards the more skilled end of the spectrum, just as the new technology replaces some older manual labor jobs.

The Changing Talent Market

Nevertheless, reckoned most broadly, the pandemic made for a strong jobseeker’s market within ecommerce fulfilment. This could be something due to soon change though.

The cause of this is again related to the pandemic, but also to the influence of automation. For example, a Wall Street Journal article recently reported that for some food and drinks companies, warehouse hiring is becoming less urgent and their job woes are generally easing. This is almost certainly the result of the pandemic abating and most people returning to work.

Automation, of course, also helps. The thing about this phenomenon is not just that it means fewer human staff are required, but that it is in fact developing all the time. This is sure to lead to an increased employee demand in one area (the operation of this technology), but everywhere else, it lessens it.

We are probably experiencing something of a transitional period at the present moment but it could just be that the talent demand pendulum is in the process of swinging back.

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