Gen Z and Procurement: Made for each other
In association with Chandrasekar Koneru
As Gen Z gets ready to enter the global workforce, they bring with them a digital inclination, and a blend of traditional values and modern outlook.
According to a recent survey, The Accenture Strategy 2017 College Graduate Employment Study, conducted in the U.S., there is a 19 percent increase in Gen Z’s preference for working in larger companies. They are prepared for the grunt work and are willing to commit to a cause in exchange for a satisfying employee experience, a stark contrast with the previous generation which gravitated towards the entrepreneurial vibe.
The current graduates are also well prepared even before accepting their first job offer. A majority of them possess certifications in digital and computer science-related areas which help them have a well-acclimatized digital mindset.
As per the Accenture study, 78 percent of the graduates have finished their apprenticeship before joining their first employer and 84 percent of them expect a structured and formal training from their employers.
Can Procurement organizations tap into the promising potential of Gen Z talent pool? Procurement, being a dynamic function that offers unique work experience and requires commitment, can attract this enterprising and focused pool of future professionals.
Focus on Technology
The emergence of disruptive technologies such as Blockchain, IoT, and Predictive Analytics has transformed the landscape of conducting business. A recent report by Deloitte predicts that 70 percent of companies will adopt predictive analytics and wearable technology in their supply chains by 2020.
A similar survey by PwC found that 30 percent of companies consider 3D design and printing technology as disruptive to supply chains in the future. For the tech-savvy Gen Z crowd, this can be a great platform which combines hands-on processes of traditional procurement function with innovations in technology.
Procurement offers a great career path for professionals by enabling them to hone their skills and scale up in position -- from a junior buyer to a senior buyer, manager and higher. However, career progress demands consistency and willingness to stay with the organization for a considerable amount of time. The Accenture study reveals that 62 percent of Gen Z are willing to stay in their first job for atleast three years and 29 percent of them are prepared to stick on for 5 or more years. Unlike their immediate predecessors, they are willing to go the distance for career progression and great employment experience.
Value for Education
The study conducted on 1000 graduates who passed out in 2017 showed that a whopping 88 percent of respondents explored job availability and opportunities for long-term growth before choosing a major. This stems from their need to put their educational training to maximum use at work. The procurement function, in addition to being a hands-on profession, is governed by best practices and well-researched operational processes. It offers new graduates ample opportunity to use their knowledge and skills. From category management to tendering, supplier assessment and risk analysis, a procurement professional can regularly apply formal educational training to real-time problems.
Procurement professionals can derive great excitement in closing deals. Analyzing markets, assessing suppliers and finalizing agreements can offer great learning and a stimulating experience. Since procurement is an ideal environment to learn, grow, succeed and be recognized, it can be a great fit for Gen Z professionals who seek constant validation and results as measures of their performance.
With the emergence of truly global sourcing models and new sourcing destinations in the Americas, EMEA, and Asia Pacific, procurement entails extensive travel around the world. This can entice the young brigade entering the workforce towards procurement. From interacting with suppliers in China to negotiating deals with manufacturers in South America, the young procurement professionals can have a world-class experience.
Given the talent vacuum in procurement (a recent Fortune magazine report estimates a demand of 1.4 million supply chain workers by 2018), compensation is set to soar for professionals. The 2017 Robert Walters Global Salary Survey predicts an average increase of 10 percent across the board for procurement professionals.
Businesses are increasingly realizing the importance of investing in procurement and supply chain functions to help them maintain cost-efficient processes. As Gen Z professionals seek an environment that values their contribution, procurement can be that platform and earn their commitment and make them a workforce worth investing in.
Procurement and sourcing functions of large businesses need to capitalize on this promising future workforce, which is proving to be a natural match for the enterprise-way of business. However, to tilt the momentum in their favor, corporations need to transform the working environment and employee engagement strategies to ensure better employee satisfaction and retention.
Organizations need to invest in digitizing processes, cross-training, career development plans and collaborative working and bring in a strategic shift in human capital management. This helps in welcoming the Gen Z into their fold and getting ahead in the race for the right talent in the market.
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