The logistics industry is facing an unprecedented shortage of labour. In a recent poll by Talent in Logistics, just 8% of 11-20 year olds considered a career in logistics appealing. This is made worse by continuing uncertainty over Brexit, which may or may not be resolved by the coming General Election in December.
Figures released in November indicated that Britain’s employment rate has fallen at the fastest rate in four years. Businesses are increasingly unwilling to make hiring decisions in an uncertain economic environment, and few more so than the Logistics industry. But why, exactly, is this the case?
Lack of Skills
The industry is fast becoming one reliant more on skilled technical labour rather than drivers, warehouse workers, and staff responsible for the ultimate parcel delivery. Nowadays, what determines the efficiency of a given route is not the skill of the person behind the wheel, but the quality of directions that they are given. A report by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and Statista indicated that 42% of logistics firms consider a lack of skills for particular jobs to be a major impediment to recruitment efforts. Poor work experience and low wages, at 29% and 25% respectively, were also often cited.
Among the most in-demand professionals for the industry are software engineers. According to the CILT report, 23% of logistics firms consider it extremely difficult to recruit the right tech talent. As the technology makes it possible for more and more warehouse and even driving labour to be handed over to machines, this problem is only likely to worsen – as those machines will need to be maintained by skilled professionals.
What Can be Done?
Many different strategies have been suggested within the industry, and it’s likely that a combination of several of them will provide a solution. More flexibility with working hours might make the job more attractive to get into in the first place. Recruiting and retraining existing staff from within might also help to plug the technical skills gap – though persuading existing staff to take an interest in the training might pose another challenge.
When will the Uncertainty end?
Of course, making these investment decisions will require a clear understanding of the coming economic challenges, and that means resolving Brexit one way or another. The coming General Election might deliver a majority government with a clear vision; on the other hand, it might deliver a hung parliament which delivers months, or even years, of further uncertainty.