Heightened demand for candidates with regional and digital experience

Hiring activities for contract roles in supply chain and procurement trended up in 2022. “With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic going on for a good part of the year, there were major supply chain and logistics disruptions worldwide,” remarks Anarane Thng, Manager of Commerce Contract at Robert Walters Singapore. “Consequently, companies hired more contract staff to help manage and hasten delivery processes when their backlogs were released.”

In addition, Anarane says that companies have channelled their efforts into automating and digitalising the supply chain by using data and AI to drive productivity. She notes, “Clients now demonstrate a preference for candidates who are more tech-savvy.”

Read on to find out more about Anarane’s expectations of the labour market for Supply Chain and Procurement professionals in 2023, with an emphasis on contract roles.

Hiring to continue, with some caveats

Although hiring activities are expected to continue at similar levels to date, Anarane expects that companies will be more prudent about their vacancies and the candidates they pick. On this point, she adds, “With a recession looming ahead, we foresee that our clients may take a slightly more conservative approach to hiring. Nevertheless, they will still look out for workers that are adaptable, tech savvy and skilled in digital transformation.” 

Regional and forecasting experience needed

Although markets have stabilised compared to the early days of the pandemic, 2023 looks set to bring new uncertainties. As a result, Anarane finds that demand planners will be highly sought after: “It was difficult to make demand forecasts during COVID and this is expected to continue with the upcoming recession, so talented demand planners are very much in need.” Other roles that will be most in demand include indirect spend, order fulfilment and customer service specialists. 

Candidates who can demonstrate regional experience will also be deeply valued. “More companies have relocated their regional hubs from Hong Kong to Singapore, or set up new hubs in US or Europe. Against this backdrop, the skill sets that will be in demand include procurement in indirect services, and international freight management particularly in FMCG industries. Digitally savvy knowledge workers will also be very valuable,” Anarane explains.

Hire with flexibility and based on potential

“For 2023, my advice to hiring managers is to keep up hybrid work arrangements as much as you can. Workers are still fixated on work flexibility and consider it a key deciding factor in whether to take up a role. Another important factor is ancillary benefits. Candidates now pay more attention to other aspects of their compensation package, like flexible benefits for personal use,” advises Anarane. “If you’re working with a tight budget, then hiring candidates based on their potential is the way to go. While experienced candidates may meet all your requirements for the job, they present a bigger flight risk as they are so sought after on the market and there is little to no new learnings for them to feel professional growth or satiety.”

Keep up hybrid arrangements, as flexibility is still prioritised by most workers.

Rise in salaries

Salaries for supply chain and procurement professionals in the contract roles are expected to increase. “Compared to other functions, supply chain and procurement salaries have traditionally been lower, with pretty flat growth in the past decade. This is set to change in the next two years as the industry is undergoing an upheaval with digital transformation, so salaries should go up,” highlights Anarane.

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