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The future of procurement training and learning

Learning is recognized by industry leaders as the top method for retaining talent, so how can procurement leaders ensure effective training?

The procurement landscape is changing; that is to say the people within the function need to adapt for the future. According to 74% of our respondents, the procurement person of tomorrow will be more highly skilled than professionals today. They will likely have a higher level of digital literacy. All of which will place pressure on the procurement function to find ways to attract and retain these valuable assets.
 
Our research shows that 66% of respondents indicate that ‘providing clear and structured training opportunities’ is their number one method for engaging and retaining highly qualified new talent. And it’s not just retention that is at stake. The opportunities that come from a structured training offering are also a key element to attracting a new type of talent to procurement.

94% do not have a structured syllabus which identifies all trainings to be conducted at each level

A structured approach to procurement training is one which ensures the knowledge, skills and competencies developed support the strategic direction of the function and wider organization beyond it. However, with 94% of respondents conceding they don’t have a structured training approach in place, and the vast majority (79%) believing procurement’s approach needs to change in this regard, there’s clearly a gap between what procurement leaders believe is needed and what is actually being implemented.

So how can a procurement organization ensure the best approach to learning for its employees?

Fostering a procurement learning culture

We live in an era where knowledge has never been so cheap. With limited effort and often zero financial cost it is possible today to learn a whole range of new skills and competencies in a way that was unthinkable just ten years ago. Information is freely available and with a little care to sort out the useful from the less useful a person can easily teach themselves how to visualize data or become a more effective negotiator, for example.

The days when employees needed to wait to be told by the company which training course they were going on next to learn something new should be in the past and anyone with the desire for self-improvement can take their learning syllabus into their own hands.

There is a level of responsibility on the individual to take ownership for this type of self-learning, but procurement leaders need to motivate their people to upskill themselves by creating and embedding a culture of learning and development. This can take many forms but good examples are setting expectations in performance reviews based on perceived skills gaps and offering employees time to pursue learning opportunities commensurate with the role they are being asked to play. 

66% said that their #1 planned method for engaging and retaining highly skilled new talent was by ‘providing clear and structured training opportunities’

People-first procurement learning and development

But procurement leaders shouldn’t just rely on the motivations of their team members to ensure they are continuously upskilled. They need to understand those motivations and think of them for a moment as a customer of the learning they want to offer them. Knowing how employees and team members are most likely to consume learning that is organized by the company and then offer it in that format is more likely to bring positive results. 

Some organizations might find for example that their learning is more effective when part of it is accessible through an eLearning portal or even a mobile device given the profile of employee they have, their habits, characteristics and expectations. And these learning programs are not always met with a one-size fits all approach, some will need to be multifaceted and suit the differing needs of the team.

As more and more business as usual tasks become automated, the procurement function will become more strategic and project-driven. This will lead to the majority of people in procurement having multiple roles rather than static jobs. An organization that is full of roles has the opportunity to rotate its team members at the end of projects, giving them valuable experience of working across different topics and testing and honing their skills with a different set of stakeholders. 

To find out how your organization can use procurement training, learning and development opportunities to attract and retain tomorrow's talent, download our full research report

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