Strengthen the Supply Chain Talent Pool With Internships

Chief supply chain officers need to ensure their talent pipeline is infused with fresh talent that can be developed for longer-term workforce needs.

Around the globe, many companies are keen to use digital technology trends such as artificial intelligence, digital twins and blockchain to disrupt their existing supply chain operating models. However, Gartner has found that many of these organizations struggle far more with people-related issues than with the technology. Challenges include lack of appropriate talent and capability, lack of executive leadership drive and execution capability, and lack of executive creativity and vision.

“Chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) report that their talent strategy is not in alignment with their digital business strategy; attraction, retention and development of skilled talent are top obstacles to achieving digital business goals,” says Dana Stiffler, VP Analyst at Gartner.

The age demographic of most interns boasts competencies such as collaboration, digital dexterity and diversity mindset

A key success factor for organizations that have a strong and robust digital talent management strategy is the ability to build and maintain a diverse talent pipeline. Unfortunately, most enterprises fail to achieve this and, as a result, have serious talent shortages that threaten digital business objectives.

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“When considering the profile of talent that companies need to achieve their digital business goals, internships can prove to be a meaningful source of talent,” says Stiffler. “The age demographic of most interns boasts competencies such as collaboration, digital dexterity and diversity mindset.”

CSCOs seeking to improve leadership and strategy in their digital talent pools for internships should:

No. 1: Define the purpose and benefits of an internship program

The main purpose of an internship program is to connect the supply chain to potential future talent. The first step is to understand the needs of the supply chain organization in alignment with its strategy and goals. Establish the purpose of investing in an internship program and a measurable baseline of what benefits will be gained.

“Internship programs represent a low-cost and highly effective way to increase productivity and innovation, while also enhancing the quantity and quality of future hires,” says Stiffler. “They also have a positive impact on an organization’s career brand in the supply chain community.”

No. 2: Design and execute the processes of the program

Design and execution are critical to the success of any internship program, with particular attention to work design and governance. A carefully structured internship program will clearly define the type of program that will best serve company needs. Identify key roles and associated responsibilities for managers and mentors, the job-posting and selection process, and a comprehensive and thoughtful onboarding experience.

No. 3: Measure success with a set of meaningful metrics that will be used for process improvements

Resource investments for a properly run internship program are significant. Organizations need defined metrics for success. Identify a select number of meaningful metrics to determine program effectiveness based on program goals. Use feedback-based results, including formal offboarding exit interviews, to drive future process improvements.

Gartner clients can read more in Designing and Executing Internship Programs to Fuel the Supply Chain Talent Pipeline. More information on the future of supply chains can be found in the Gartner Trend Insight Report Converging the Physical and Digital Supply Chains. This research collection will help CSCOs and supply chain leaders understand the skills and competencies needed to thrive in the digital era.

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