Purchasing profession enjoys huge rise in popularity

3 September 2010

3 September 2010 | Angeline Albert 

The rising profile of procurement has seen the number of UK purchasing managers more than double in a decade. 

According to the Office of National Statistics' (ONS) Labour Force Survey
 the number of people identified as “purchasing managers” has increased every year, from 24,000 in 2001 to 53,000 this year, an increase of 121 per cent.

In 2008, 39,000 purchasing managers were recorded. This figure increased by just 2,000 in 2009. This year, however, the number jumped by a further 12,000.

Between 2001 and 2003, the number of female purchasing managers in the UK was too small to record. Current figures show that 19,000 of the 53,000 purchasing managers are women.

Responding to the latest figures, Pat Law, managing director of recruitment firm Hays Procurement, said: “It’s not a surprise to see big increases in purchasing managers. This is reflective of the amplified focus purchasing has enjoyed over the past five to 10 years.”

“The profession has seen a large rise in popularity because of its obvious cost saving activity, which has increased demand for people with the relevant skills and background,” he said.

“Another reason for the rise is likely to be the much-improved profile of CIPS, which has encouraged people into the profession. Purchasing has become more recognised as a career choice in its own right, whereas before professionals may have had purchasing responsibilities within their role, but not the specific job title.”  

Richard Silk, partner at recruiter CIPS GPA, offers a more cautious commentary. “You have to be careful about statistics. Job titles are sometimes misleading. What was a ‘senior buyer’ in the past may be called a ‘purchasing manager’ now,” he said.

However, he agreed that the profile of purchasing as a profession has increased. “I have no doubt more people are electing to enter procurement. Graduates now see it as an attractive career proposition rather than just a job,” said Silk. 

“We now take many more calls from graduates looking for a career in procurement than in the past, rather than most calls coming from people in their mid-20s and 30s who have worked in other roles,” he said. “CIPS gives people who didn’t go through the traditional degree route the ability to further develop their career while working in procurement, and gaining a CIPS qualification shows a commitment to the profession.”   

The procurement jobs market is showing clear signs of recovery from the recession and, although companies are still facing recessionary pressures, the figures show employers are beginning to recruit again as they seek better value from their supply base. See our feature out this week on the state of the procurement job market.

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