Why a license to skill is the way forward

David Noble, Group CEO, Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply
27 April 2016

The world is ever-changing, business is increasingly complicated and challenges are becoming so much tougher. You only have to look at this issue of Supply Management to see the range of issues, sectors and areas in which procurement and supply professionals are now expected – or have the opportunity – to get involved. 

Organising the Rio Olympic Games is a massive undertaking and has faced many problems, even without a recession at 3%. Putting on huge international events requires skill, determination and drive to meet immovable deadlines, hit budgets, mitigate risk and carry out projects with the eyes of the world upon you. 

Drinkable water is fast becoming a scarce resource as agriculture and industries make increasing demands and climate change makes its presence felt. We could run out of the substance on which all life depends before we run out of oil. Managing this most precious of all commodities successfully has therefore become one of the globe’s greatest challenges. 

In a world of diminishing natural resources and increasing supply chain risks, we can no longer accept inadequate procurement and supply practices. We must ensure the profession is fit-for-purpose to move on to its next generation. 

It is for these reasons and more that, as a profession, we need to step forward and be accountable for our actions. To speak up – just as CEO coach and business adviser Jim Lawless urges – and demonstrate we have earned our place at the top table. 

This is why CIPS is leading a campaign to ensure greater accountability for organisations and individuals by way of a voluntary professional procurement licence. Such an approach will lead to improved corporate governance, transparency, anti-corruption measures and help to recognise the importance of the profession for sustainable development. 

In effect, a licence will ensure procurement and supply professionals have the appropriate knowledge, skills and behaviour to manage the function as it should be managed. A licence will ensure that: 

• Procurement processes are carried out by those who are professionally qualified 

• Procurement professionals are able to demonstrate a pre-determined level of competence and understanding that is continually updated 

• There are formalised standards of practice and ethics, and professionals are held accountable for their actions 

• Confidence in the profession will rise, along with the ability to meet increasing challenges 

• Employers and enterprises will be able to simultaneously protect the public good and enhance the significance of procurement 

• Procurement practice (skills and processes) can be standardised 

• Accountability and transparency requirements will be addressed across the supply chain 

The CIPS Global Standard is a comprehensive competency framework that details the knowledge, skills and behaviour an individual requires at five levels of competency: tactical, operational, managerial, professional and advanced professional. The introduction of a voluntary professional procurement licence is a commitment to demonstrating the appropriate knowledge, skills and behaviour to undertake a role at each of these five levels. 

We appreciate that compulsory or regulatory licensing would be a burden on business. We’re not asking for that. Instead we propose the introduction of a voluntary licence in procurement and supply. We believe this approach will provide a practical and pragmatic solution to the need for improved accountability, transparency and professional practice in our increasingly complex world.

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