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By 2020, millennials, or Generation Y, will make up over half of the global workforce. Attracting the best and brightest of this group is key to procurement’s future success, yet many of this generation still don’t know what procurement is or what it does, making it more challenging to bring those people in.
Procurement must begin to change its thinking if it wants this to change.
“Not many people go to university saying they want to be in procurement. I didn’t know anything about it when I was at university and I fell into it while I was looking for jobs. This is because of a lack of awareness,” says Martin Smith, senior manager at recruitment company Procurement Heads.
“I only realised procurement is a valuable commodity in any major business when I started this role. People fall into procurement the same way I fell into recruitment. Procurement is growing, but this relatively unknown function is often undesirable to young professionals and is often stereotyped as a boring buying and saving job, which is not true. Once people know about procurement and understand its purpose, a lot of people are attracted to it."
Procurement can fix its image problem and raise its profile by collaborating with schools and universities to promote what a career in the function can offer.
CPOs should make a point of attending university career events and seminars to speak to students and highlight aspects of the role that appeal to them. Generation Y are tech savvy individuals so it should be highlighted that the function works with technologies. This group are also collaborative and care about the environment so it is important to emphasise the relationships procurement has with internal and external stakeholders as well as the role it plays in helping to fight climate change.
Graduate schemes are another big draw for millennials and their use should be expanded. They like the opportunity to move around a business and learn in different functions or different countries.
“If there were more graduate programmes and more businesses willing to invest in graduates, the industry would have a much greater profile,” says Smith.
“For example, there should be more procurement courses available and it can be made a pre-requisite that part of an academic development is doing that course, similar to the requirements in other sectors, such as in accounting and finance or marketing. This would create more of a structure and ultimately more millennials going into procurement.”
Changing the pre-existing perceptions of procurement is not an easy job, but with some adaptation and self-promotion, it is possible. Whether it is by introducing more graduate schemes or speaking at universities, something needs to change to help the function attract the best and brightest.
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.