Logistics facing a time bomb skills deficit4 min read

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The logistics sector is facing a multitude of challenges amidst a rapidly changing landscape – and it could substantially impact your bottom line.

In the UK, only 9% of the workforce is younger than 25, whilst 45% are more than 45 years old. With so few young people entering the profession it’s only a matter of time before the sector runs out of qualified and experienced staff.

Talent in Logistics’ research reveals young people have very little awareness of the sector as a whole and are mostly in the dark about the wide variety of opportunities available to them.

In fact, only 8% of young respondents say they see logistics as an attractive career option. Many consider logistics a boring choice, while scores more think typical salaries are far lower than they really are (in the UK).

The main reasons why young people are not interested in logistics are:

  • They don’t think it’s exciting
  • They are unsure of the skills needed
  • They think the sector lacks diversity

Looking ahead, as internet shopping further fragments routes to market, bigger teams will be required to meet demand. The increase in automation within the sector will also bring with it the need for new skills within the workforce, so both quantity and quality are needed. This is where the challenge lies.

What about Flanders?

Similar findings apply to Flanders, according to the 2018 VDAB ‘bottleneck jobs’ report. Freight forwarding has both a qualitative and a quantitative problem. There is both a shortage of applicants as well as people with the necessary skills and expertise.

The situation for dispatchers and drivers is even more alarming. The VDAB identifies them as ‘heavy bottleneck jobs’: statistically outranking other jobs on the list. Meanwhile, trucking companies are even reaching out to 18-year-old students – yet to graduate – to promote their job postings. A truck festival in the Netherlands aims to get people of all ages interested in becoming a truck driver.

What can you do?

There is room for much more to be done to widen the appeal of the sector and tempt more youngsters into logistics. The whole supply chain sector is so much more varied than it is perceived to be and is in need of more young talent.

Diversify your workforce

Increasing the presence and visibility of senior female leaders and those from minority ethnic backgrounds can help attract, recruit and retain these demographics and advance them to senior levels.

Other important actions that will facilitate this include a greater focus on cultural values and leadership behaviours, as well as highlighting the success stories of current female and ethnic minority leaders.

Better career development, as well as increased opportunities for sponsorship and mentorship are also vital.

Connect with millennials via social media

Instagram

Take steps to engage with young people on social media platforms and you will have instant access to a whole new pool of talent. Talent in Logistics’ survey found that a huge 66.4% of respondents engage with Instagram, an incredible opportunity for logistics recruiters to capture millennials’ attention with engaging visual content.

According to social media management platform Hootsuite, 75% of Instagram users take actions, such as visiting a website, after looking at an Instagram advertising post. This proves that the marketing benefits of using Instagram could be extremely rewarding for logistics companies trying to reach more young people.

Video

YouTube is one of the most popular platforms for reaching young people, with 36.8% of survey respondents stating that YouTube is one of their go-to platforms. Examples of how logistics companies could utilise this platform more are:

  • Young employee testimonials – video case studies of young people currently pursuing a career in logistics, talking about how they got into the sector
  • “A day in the life of” – a glimpse of a typical day in the life of a young person working in the sector
  • Company culture – broadcasting your company values on your YouTube channel gives potential candidates an opportunity to self-select and work out whether they’re a good fit, as cultural fit is important to many young people.

Increase visibility at career fairs

The sector needs more representation at career fairs and other regular events, which are currently playing a major role in highlighting the opportunities available to young people in logistics. These are excellent networking events and can give young people the chance to make connections with potential employers, mentors and peers.

For those who do not have a good sense of what career they want to pursue, these fairs can open doors, linking them to people who can become instrumental in their career progression. Therefore, logistics needs to make sure it’s in the mix when these decisions and connections are being made.

Conclusion

When logistics companies communicate with young people, they need to focus on sending the following messages:

  1. Logistics needs a wide range of skills levels
  2. It’s a world of challenge and opportunity
  3. Don’t underestimate the earning potential
  4. There’s never a dull moment
  5. There’s excellent career progression
  6. A diverse range of doors are open

Sources

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