Procurement profession needs more entry-level positions

1 June 2012

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1 June 2012 | Adam Leach

The procurement profession needs more entry-level positions to broaden the pool of potential entrants in the future.

This was the view of David Smith, commercial director at the Department for Work and Pensions and CIPS president, speaking at a roundtable hosted yesterday by recruitment agency Barclay Meade.

“What we’ve tended not to have as a profession is enough entry-level jobs,” he said. “We have roles that are above entry-level and that brings an expectation of either experience or some form of educational qualification, that acts as a barrier.”

Smith, whose presidential theme is to encourage the next generation of procurement professionals, said the situation had improved but more needs to be done to enable young people and those wanting to go straight into the workforce to enter procurement.

“Things have changed but we still haven’t created entries to the procurement that can attract those without the best degrees or degrees at all,” he added. “There can be a learning at desk with vocational training or CIPS type training to help people enter the profession.”

Guy Strafford, chief client officer at Proxima, said by implementing higher academic standards - such as exist in the accountancy profession - then procurement could attract higher quality candidates and in turn higher salaries. “If we want to up the quality of people in procurement we need to start putting much higher academic standards in place, that will become self-fulfilling,” he said.

As part of his presidential campaign, David Smith is asking procurement professionals to spend one day a year promoting the profession. He has advised talking at schools or universities to inform young people about the profession. He has also called for more procurement internships.

During the roundtable discussion, buyers also discussed a number of ways for the profession to sell itself and make it more high profile as a prospective career choice.

Michael Gaggiano, general manager, EMEA at Procurian, said purchasing needed to stop being so closely associated with costs rather than value: “If we can start getting procurement people into the mindset where we can talk about the value proposition then it starts becoming more attractive to the end customer.”

Ishmael Abdulai, a buyer at Roche, said buyers needed to be seen as coaches rather than cops. “It should be ‘here’s my game plan, this is how I want you to play your football, this what I want you to do to bring success,” he said.

The latest Tracking UK Recruitment report by Barclay Meade published yesterday found recruitment levels within procurement have returned to the levels before the economic downturn. It found that 82 per cent of supply chain and logistics firms are recruiting at 2007 levels.

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