The supply chain and logistics sector interfaces with many other sectors, and "change" was the watchword of 2016 for the majority of them. We’re expecting plenty more of it in the year to come, with major player Amazon potentially moving into the Australian market to shake things up, local retailers completely restructuring their supply chains, and businesses moving to take greater ownership of their processes.

Looking back on 2016

2016 was a year of record highs – Australia moved more iron ore from is shores than ever before – and also of historic lows, with shipping rates at the lowest they’ve ever  been. The year also saw a lot of changes to infrastructure. For example, Port Botany is bottlenecked, so people are looking at other options for moving goods like Port Kembla and Port Waratah.

Despite record exports, mining saw a slow year for hiring, which reflects the different phase the industry is in now – operational phase rather than construction. Across the board, 2016 was characterised by an emphasis on logistics. There has been significant competition in third party logistics as companies try to source better service levels for the best prices.

We’ve also seen change throughout the primary production sector (and this will likely continue in the coming year), with the major food retailers restructuring and consolidating their processes for getting meat and bakery items to market.

The building materials sector saw similar change last year, as companies changed the supply chain to prioritise pre-fabricated materials that are then installed onsite.

What will change in 2017?

We’re seeing a lot of businesses wanting to control their supply chain all the way from the supply floor to the client, as quality management throughout the chain has become more important due to packaging and quality control regulations have changed. In order to gain control of traceability and take more responsibility for their products, we expect more businesses to exercise more control over third-party companies or take their processes in-house.

We will definitely see some effect on the local market if Amazon moves into Australia – but it might not all be bad news. To remain competitive, businesses will need to get their online presence and offering in order. Meanwhile, if the Australian dollar goes back up, we’ll again  see offshoring of manufacturing and more imports from overseas.

In the domestic food sector, one big change we’re seeing is that far more ready meals are now available in supermarkets, as consumers will pay a premium for less effort. This will change the supply chain industry, as the supply chain of one ready-made meal is completely different from a supply chain of getting each ingredient separately as a product to the shelves.

In food exports, we expect that the upcoming Western Sydney airport (and airports in regional centres) will allow agricultural producers in the local area to supply direct to Asian customers, getting from the farm to the plane within 12 hours – as fresh as Australian consumers are able to get the produce.

In-demand supply chain and logistics roles

Logistics is an evolving and expanding market in Australia, and it can be hard to find talented, well-trained people to fill the roles available.

In supply chain, some businesses are looking for more people with end-to-end experience –however, professionals tend to be more segmented into specialisms: people will be good at planning or warehousing, for instance, but not both.

Candidates looking to advance or being working in supply chain would benefit from building end-to-end knowledge and skillsets. While this can take time, the benefits would be palpable when it comes time to interview for a job.

In-demand skill sets

In terms of hard skills, we expect increasing demand for traceability, which is a growing area that businesses are looking to develop in the coming year. For professionals looking to upskill, taking courses in quarantine inspection and export/import is a wise move.

Looking to the soft skills employers want, an eye for efficiency, speed and ease of use is something that professionals should emphasise.

Tips for supply chain and logistics professionals

One of the best things supply chain professionals can do to improve their value proposition is to get out of the office, find out how the chain of movement occurs and highlight this knowledge on their CV. An understanding of the whole production process is a valuable advantage for professionals who want to get ahead.

For example, sales teams often have no idea how products are processed, or how long it takes to make them. However, when back of house interacts with front of house, outcomes for the whole business improve.

Tips for hiring managers

When speaking to our clients in the supply chain and logistics sector, we’re advising them to get in early and be organised in the recruitment process. The top candidates are getting multiple offers and being chased by multiple companies, so the smoother your hiring process, the more chance you have of securing the best talent.

What supply chain and logistics professionals want

When speaking to professionals in the supply chain and logistics jobs market, we find that employees most often want to leave a job because their manager is too rigid and doesn’t allow for work-life balance, so it’s important for businesses to remember this when considering retention strategies. As with all industries, it’s also important to review salaries and offer pay rises when deserved.

At the lower level in this sector, employees are looking for shift flexibility so that they aren’t permanently locked into night shifts, while at a senior level, staff are looking for the flexibility to work from home or pick up their kids.

If you’re a hiring manager looking to bring on new staff in 2017, it’s important to consider what needs your employees might have, according to stage of career.

2017 looks to be an exciting and challenging year in the supply chain and logistics industry, with businesses looking for people who can help drive change as they rethink and redirect their supply chains, and professionals with hands-on experience of the whole process in strong demand.

Check out the latest supply chain jobs in Australia. And if you’re looking to expand your team or looking for a new role, you can also contact us

Summary

In-demand supply chain and logistics roles in 2017: Professionals with end-to-end experience. Professionals tend to be more segmented into specialisms: people will be good at planning or warehousing, for instance, but not both. Candidates looking to advance or being working in supply chain would benefit from building their end-to-end knowledge and skillsets. 

In-demand skill sets in 2017: Increasing demand for traceability, which is a growing area that businesses are looking to develop in the coming year. For professionals looking to upskill, taking courses in quarantine inspection and export/import is a wise move.

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