The coronavirus pandemic has heavily impacted Australia’s workforce. Last week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that 227,000 jobs were lost between April and May. Since March, a total of 835,000 Australians have lost their jobs, which brings the unemployment rate up by 0.7% to 7.1%.
Experts are predicting a slow economic recovery, which means the disruption caused by coronavirus is likely to have major, long-term impacts for many organisations. With three million Australians currently supported by JobKeeper wage subsidies and the future still uncertain, procurement professionals must hone their skillset to safeguard their careers.
A recent survey revealed that 91% of organisations believe they should be helping to re-skill their employees but only one in five is doing so. For procurement professionals looking to take matters into their own hands, here are the top five skills to focus on.
Procurement professionals are pretty adept at in-person negotiations. But what about negotiating virtually?
In recent months, lockdowns and border closures have seen the number of passengers on commercial airlines drop by 95%. During this time, there has been no other option but to engage with suppliers via video conferencing software. Far from being a temporary measure, it’s expected that organisations will be particularly cautious when it comes to resuming business travel. Employee health and safety will be a top concern and risk assessments that rule out non-essential travel will be commonplace.
Procurement professionals must be prepared to end their reliance on face-to-face meetings and find other ways to nurture meaningful relationships with their suppliers.
Procurement professionals with the ability to quickly adapt to unusual situations will be in high demand throughout this crisis and beyond. The workforce was already evolving rapidly before coronavirus hit, but the pandemic will accelerate further changes. Organisations will rely on employees who can think on their feet, refresh and update their skills regularly, embrace digitalisation, and work flexibly.
3. Risk management
Global supply chains have suffered enormous strain throughout this crisis. Whether it’s factory closures, shipping delays, or customer stockpiling, coronavirus has taught procurement the importance of preparing for black swan events and the potential dangers of the just-in-time (JIT) supply model. Moving forward, procurement professionals will need to make risk mitigation strategies a number one priority. This involves ending dependency on single-source suppliers, investing in tech (such as AI and natural language processing) to monitor the supply network, and better understanding potential risks. In particular, professionals must improve their awareness of financial risk – disruptive events trigger recessions and recessions have a major impact on any business.
4. Data analytics
If it wasn’t already doing so, data will start driving the majority of procurement decisions to predict future disruptions, manage risk and assess and monitor suppliers. Procurement professionals who can understand data, identify trends, and use this information to make informed decisions will be in high demand.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a great deal of stress and uncertainty. Employees across the globe have been thrown into atypical working environments and faced major concerns regarding their job security. As a result, certain soft skills, including leadership and communication, are more important than ever.
A soft skill that has become particularly valuable during this time is emotional intelligence (EQ). Procurement professionals with high EQ will display compassion, effectively interpret emotions, and find it easier to connect with their teammates and suppliers. The ability to accommodate the needs of fellow employees will be highly useful in the coming months.