Addressing skills gap in supply chain
Lack of skills in supply chain has been identified as one of the biggest challenges facing the continent. Experts in the sector said the task of finding people with the right skills set required to run the highly complex operations is increasingly difficult, especially at the middle and upper management levels.
They argued that unless companies solve the problem, it could threaten their ability to compete on the global stage. They said it is worse in Nigeria due to the ‘japa syndrome,’ as most organisations are losing capable hands to companies overseas with very good paid jobs.
Logistics outfit, DHL, had warned the supply chain industry that more must be done to combat the growing talent gap crisis in the sector.
The survey, ‘The Supply Chain Talent Shortage: From Gap to Crisis’ revealed changing skills requirements, aging workforce and lack of development as the top factors driving the talent shortage.
The report found that lack of supply chain talent is getting to a crisis stage. To help reduce the impact in Nigeria, the Director General, African Centre for Supply Chain (ACSC), Dr. Obiora Madu, at the centre’s maiden awards and dinner event, revealed that a training academy for supply chain managers, Multimix Academy, had to include certifications in supply chain to encourage local practice.
According to him, ACSC has done a lot in terms of education like certified port compliance and graduate certificate in supply chain management, among others.
Currently, he said the centre is collaborating with the Nigerian Institute of Transport and Technology (NITT) to carry out research on logistics value in Nigeria and its percentage contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This, the ACSC boss noted, is aimed at providing information needed by logistics and supply chain managers to make decisions. He said the centre is also partnering with the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) on the traffic impact of the deep seaport along the Lekki corridor, describing it as a disaster waiting to happen.
“Another is the absence of cold chains at the airports. Nigeria loses almost 50 per cent of perishable items at the airport, yearly. They are wasted every year due to the absence of a cold chain, one of the biggest challenges in the country.
“Supply chain was already suffering before COVID-19 complicated it. Absence of infrastructure is the reason Nigeria is not competitive. On the logistics performance index of the World Bank, Nigeria is 110 out of 160. It is difficult. All the pillars and indices that arrive at the number are very poor,” he said.
Speaking on the theme ‘ Leveraging Supply Chain Excellence in the Changing World Order, Director, Customer Supply Chain sub-Saharan Africa, Friesland Campina, Temitope Bandele, said supply chain had gone beyond just measuring KPIs, freight forwarding or procurement, saying that it is now a way of life.
He said leveraging supply chains in the changing world order requires one to be agile and effectively develop the people, processes and use technology efficiently.
For Nigeria to grow as a nation in supply chain and achieve best practices, he said the country needs to copy what works for it and at the same time, localise best practices to what works in Africa and Nigeria.
To integrate better, “we need to move out of our silos and stop seeing ourselves as competitors. With more integration and connection, we can do quite a lot. In the supply chain, we are the bedrock of the organisation. In Africa, there is this inability to integrate seamlessly, which is linked to our infrastructure and the economy itself. With Nigeria leading the front in the African supply chain, we need to become the benchmark globally and leading best practices,” he said.
Canvassing the need to have supply chain curriculum in universities, he added: “We cannot do without the people, that is why capacity building is very important. It is wrong for us not to have a structured supply chain curriculum in our universities. We don’t have that yet. Multimix is putting this together to ensure we have a standard structure of education that teaches supply chain and leverage on global skill to develop capabilities in Nigeria and Africa.”