Graduates key to innovation

20 June 2007

21 June 2007 | Antony Barton

Premier Conference coverage

Experienced buyers can be stuck in their ways and "squash" graduates' innovation, a leading procurement expert claims.

Professor Richard Lamming, director of the school of management at the University of Southampton, said despite studying some of the best procurement research, graduates are expected to stick to tired practices and follow the "apprentice, journeyman, master" route.

He added it is vital the profession listens to students because there is enormous innovation to come.

This came after a live survey, in which 70 per cent of the audience said the main issue facing the profession was a lack of quality entrants.

Gerry Walsh, CIPS president, said the result showed the profession should do better at marketing itself to students. He added: "Those young people don't hear enough from us."

Nevertheless, he claimed awareness was improving, but there was a need to promote the exciting aspects of the profession, particularly in universities.

One audience member said despite more awareness, young people would probably choose a career in sales over procurement because of the salaries.

Delegates were also asked how they develop their capabilities. Some 48 per cent of respondents said they seek to develop their skills and knowledge from working alongside other professionals and learning from experience.

The event host, Mike Lewis, professor of operations and supply management at Bath School of Management, said this supported Lamming's point "very strongly".

Although there was probable sample bias, 56 per cent of the audience saw globalisation as an opportunity.

Some 21 per cent saw it as a challenge, 20 per cent as providing access to greater resources and 3 per cent as a risk.


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