Business, Freight News, Logistics

Freight industry seeks half a million recruits by 2017

[ September 14, 2012   //   ]

The logistics industry would have to find half a million recruits between now and 2017, says Dr Mick Jackson of Skills for Logistics. Most of these people would be needed simply to replace retirees, even before beginning to consider growth in the sector, said the chief executive officer of the industry sector skills council told a press conference in London on 12 September. Moreover,, despite the recession, there were still severe skills shortages in many areas, especially drivers.

To help tackle the problem this end, SfL had identified ‘clusters’ of logistics employment – for example around major ports or airports – where it would reach out to schools, colleges and other establishments and try to “build a pool of new talent, people who want to work in logistics rather than in a shop, a pub or a care home.”

Clusters identified so far were Daventry, Taffs Well in South Wales, Bellshill in central Scotland, Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland and Trafford Park near Manchester. It was likely that future clusters would include major port and airport areas, Dr Jackson told FBJ.

On a positive note, while the image of the logistics image was one of the chief barriers to recruitment in the past, but its image has improved markedly in recent years, said Dr Mick Jackson, chief executive officer of Skills for Logistics. Good work by UPS in the Olympics build-up and the Eddie Stobart TV series had helped to raise the industry’s profile, h.

The next task, he continued, was “to raise the self-esteem of people working in the industry” and SfL has gained funding to set up a Logistics Guild – due to be launched in September – which would act as a network for ‘operatives’ in the industry, including freight forwarders. “If we can build the self-esteem of the 2.4 million people who work in logistics, we can make it an industry in which people want to work,” said Dr Jackson.

The supply of training had improved over the years from the admittedly “dire” levels a few years ago, but employers need to be more involved in the process. “We will be working with the fledgling National Skills Academy for Logistics to develop the right tools for the job,” he said.

Too often, training recruitment was carried out in an ad hoc fashion, he pointed out. Companies would never procure their tyres or forklift trucks in such a casual, uninformed manner as they acquired staff training, he said. SfL chairman Paul Brooks added that training purchase decisions in many companies were often “pushed down to the operational level” of businesses, which was not ideal.

New Occupational Craft Skill groups that had just been launched, would in future help employers make better-informed decisions, he said. These would be made up of groups of employers that would help determine what skills were needed for various sectors, and at local level. There would be a group for international trade, which would encompass freight forwarding.

The groups would be chaired by industry bodies, including the British International Freight Association (BIFA), along with other s such as the Freight Transport Association, the Institute of Couriers, Port Skills & Safety, the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) and the Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics (CITL), although it was vital that actual employers became actively involved in the process. If successful, the Occupational Craft Skills Groups would, promised Dr Jackson, be “a fantastically powerful piece of information.”