I recently recruited a senior level procurement role for a Brisbane based manufacturer and the successful candidate had originally come from ‘the floor’ in a warehouse and assembly manufacturing environment. This made me think about manufacturing in Australia, and the recent upheaval the sector has experienced due to the global pandemic.

Through talking to many manufacturing companies, some have said their suppliers are looking at ‘reshoring’ their production activities back to Australia due to ongoing disruptions in global supply chains and freight services. Noticeably, this is not just happening in traditional heavy industry manufacturing sectors such as metal products, machinery manufacturing, but also building materials, chemicals, timber and furniture.

The manufacturing and supply chain environment influences all aspects of business from sales and planning to delivery on time. Having a hands-on understanding of how raw materials and finished goods combine is still paramount to success, learning the craft on the floor combined with a vast array of extracurricular training is often the best way. That’s why the successful candidate stood out so much. Their thorough understanding of the shop floor demands meant they could provide insightful suggestions for innovation and efficiencies at a more strategic level.

An ABC article written by Jordan Hayne in September of last year covered the Australian Government’s intentions to spend $1.3 billion over the next four years starting in the first half of 2021 to help manufacturers upscale their businesses.

With the Government subsidies and strategic focus on adding sophistication to manufacturing and supply chains, staff will require additional skills such as investigative forecasting, and communication and influencing abilities. Several organisations such as the Supply Chain and Logistics Association, The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Chain, or the Association for Supply Chain Management can offer a vast array of training and mentoring programs. Warehouse or manufacturing workers looking to move to new roles should consider opportunities for professional development to keep pace with business expectations.

Transferrable skills and existing organisational knowledge can go a long way when it comes to finding that person who is going to make a real positive difference in your role. Look internally and see who you have on the floor. Who shows initiative and turns up each day, putting their hand up and asks for more? Promoting from within creates a fantastic culture. Your staff will thrive when they can see opportunities for development, becoming more engaged, giving greater discretionary effort and in turn creating a high performing team.

Happy recruiting!


Andrew Hill

Photo by Arno Senoner on Unsplash