Austrian companies have a hard time filling vacancies of executive positions in purchasing departments. Thus about two-thirds of them need more than eight months to fill the vacant position of their purchasing manager. That was the result of a study by the personnel consultancy Penning Consulting, the purchasing consultancy Kerkhoff Consulting and the Forum Einkauf (Purchasing Forum) of the Österreichische Produktivitäts-und Wirtschaftlichkeits-Zentrum (ÖPWZ – Austrian Center for Productivity and Profitability). Altogether 175 companies were interviewed.
One fifth of the companies in our neighboring country to the south needs four to six months to find a new purchasing manager. And 31 percent are of the opinion that external applicants frequently do not meet professional requirements. Not even 20 percent of the interviewed companies have an internal successor at the ready for strategic positions in purchasing.
"The results are devastating", says Stephan Penning, Managing Partner of Penning Consulting. "Austrian companies reveal striking gaps in the recruitment of new purchasing staff. Although it takes very long to fill a vacancy and applicants frequently do not have suitable qualifications, companies do not develop any successors internally. In an unfavorable situation, an entire department can thus be crippled for months."
The recruitment of a strategic buyer also takes longer than eight months in 56 percent of the companies. Even where trade buyers (56 %) and clerks (57 %) are concerned, the majority of companies is unable – according to their own information – to fill such vacant positions within eight months. A quarter of the interviewed companies is successful, at least, in hiring clerks within two months.
"The figures collected clearly show that far too little has been invested in the training of buyers in recent years“, says Gundula Jäger, Managing Director of Kerkhoff Consulting Austria. "The situation remains that hardly any universities in Europe provide special training for purchasing and supply chain specialists. At the same time, that's exactly the type of people required for ever more complex international supply chains. This now results in a tight personnel situation.“
Despite the long periods required to fill vacancies, many companies in Austria continue to rely on classical recruitment channels. Particularly striking: Print media (77 % of the interviewed companies) continue to be more frequently used than on-line media (about 60 %). "This information is surprising because according to current studies, the Internet is the most important recruitment channel", says Stephan Penning. "Companies thus miss out especially on the high-caliber group of young high potentials.“
Many companies actually do post their vacancies internally (70 %); but only two-fifths of those interviewed rely on employee recommendations. "Good buyers frequently know other good buyers", says Gundula Jäger. Accordingly, this possibility of finding or obtaining personnel is used by far too few companies to quickly fill vacancies.“
Also, less than half of the interviewed Austrian companies use external advice (49 %). Stephan Penning: "Nonetheless, personnel consultants are used on average seven percent more frequently for filling vacancies in the purchasing area than for filling other positions. But: For many personnel consultants and head hunters, the market of buyers and supply chain managers is very new. They don't have sufficiently strong networks yet, to act as a fire brigade fighting fires when an important position is to be filled at short notice.“
The interviews were electronically conducted by the personnel consultancy Penning Consulting, the purchasing consultancy Kerkhoff Consulting and the Forum Einkauf (Purchasing Forum) of the Österreichische Produktivitäts-und Wirtschaftlichkeits-Zentrum (ÖPWZ). A total of 175 Austrian companies from all sectors of the industry participated in the study.