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China grapples with logistics skill shortage

[ April 16, 2013   //   ]

China is facing a massive shortage of logistics skills, said the vice-president of the country’s main logistics body on a visit to the UK. Ren Haoxiang, vice president of the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing (CFLP) explained that there was an acute lack of people with practical and operational skills across the logistics chain such as drivers and warehousemen.

Ambitious Chinese parents tend to push their children into university education in the belief that they will gain better-paid careers. But it is university graduates who are struggling to find jobs at the moment, while graduates from the middle education tier with vocational quaklifications often walk straight into jobs.

Ren Haoxiang, together with a delegation of 20 logistics and educational officials from China was on a fact-finding mission to the UK hosted by Skills for Logistics, The British Council and CFLP following which the three bodies signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see the three parties co-operating on areas such as logistics talent cultivation, standardisation and vocational education.

They will establish an industry-led platform for Sino-UK co-operation on modern logistics vocational education to facilitate communication and co-operation between employers, education & training institutions and central government in the two countries. SfL and CFLP will collaborate to develop National Occupational Standards for the Chinese logistics sector as the first step in a wider collaboration on joint curricula and qualifications.

“This is a big opportunity for the UK to be able to trainer the trainers for China,” explained SfL CEO, Dr Mick Jackson.

As part of their UK tour, the Chinese delegation visited Unipart Logistics’ Cowley, Oxford operation. The latter’s sales director, Paul Brooks, who has experience of the company’s operations in China, said that trying to fill skilled positions in the industry was a constant battle. “Our HR teams are constantly going to job fairs (the main channel to jobs in China where the recruitment and labour hire industries are in their infancy) and overfill positions by 10-20% – but supply still doesn’t keep up with demand.”

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