“We are playing hosts to our world cousins. They are coming here to study.”
The students packed the room. At the Bricks Matter reception, in a classroom in Spain at the EAE business school, I met students from Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Mexico, Sudan, and Panama. I was fascinated by the multicultural diversity of the talent in the room.
Today, the future supply chain leaders of the world are primarily coming from European and North American schools. The emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China have not stepped up to the plate to build college programs to supply talent for the emerging markets. As a result, the Spanish-speaking regions of the world are migrating to schools in Spain, and the English-speaking regions of the world are attending schools in London. The percentage of international students attending the book tour events in Europe was high.
Despite the rain, a public transit strike, and the fact that the event was offered only in English without translation, I spoke this week to a full house of over one hundred attendees in Barcelona and sixty in Madrid. (The events were co-chaired by the Spanish CSCMP roundtable and the EAE business school.) About 35% were students.
With an unemployment rate of over 20% in Spain, the discussions on the shortages in supply chain talent sparked interest, and much skepticism. Job shortages in the area of supply chain management were hard for the audience to conceive.
I could not help but contrast the grim mood in the room with the upbeat and jubilant mood of the graduating Penn State students at a recent conference that I attended in December. While the Penn State graduates in the United States are being pelted with offers, and the talk was how to pick the best starting position, the attendees in the room in Spain were just hoping for a supply chain job anywhere.
I leave Spain believing that multinational investments in the European schools could pay big dividends. I think that it is an important source of untapped talent.