Freight News, Logistics

Fresh approach needed to tackle logistics skills famine

[ November 13, 2015   //   ]

Logistics businesses should cast their net wider when looking for potential graduates and school leavers and consider students from non-traditional subjects, says Rhenus managing director, David Williams. Rather than trying to recruit people with specific industry knowledge, firms could look for people with a flair for maths or a degree in IT. “It is important to recognise people with the right skill set and attitude, rather than knowledge of the sector,” he argued.

He called on the logistics sector “to consider a more creative approach with regards to its graduate recruitment. A new strategy is needed across the board to educate students about the opportunities available in logistics. A rise in technology means multi-skilled jobs are now the norm, and this has created an array of new roles in the industry.”H

Williams says that the UK is facing a chronic lack of skilled personnel within a number of industries including construction, IT and manufacturing, with the logistics industry suffering more than others. The Freight Transport Association has recently warned that the skills shortage in the sector has reached crisis point, citing the lack of young people being attracted coupled with the aging profile of existing workers. A survey by recruitment agency, Blue Arrow, discovered that 80% of the logistics workforce studied were aged between 35 and 60, with just 20% in their twenties and early thirties. In addition to this, the UK Logistics Conference Index recently noted the supply chain sector will need an additional 650,000 workers between now and 2020 to meet its needs and warned there isn’t enough new talent coming into the industry.

A report by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust identified that young people have an outdated perception of logistics and may consider it as a low skilled profession. The industry is struggling to target those with qualifications, due to this skewed viewpoint and many overlook the diverse roles available in the sector. In reality, the industry needs people like software engineers and data analysts as it becomes increasingly technical.

Rhenus Logistics UK says it has worked hard to think of new ways to excite and educate students considering logistics as a career, including hosting careers evenings to creating and implementing its first ever graduate scheme this year,

Recent Rhenus graduate Michael Beeston, is currently completing the programme, based at Rhenus Bradford. Mr Beeston, who studied archaeology at Chester University, has been developing a new web-based Road Transport Management System (RTMS). He said: “When I was searching for jobs I spotted the Rhenus graduate scheme advertised on a job site, this was one of few that specified that experience in logistics was not necessary. Acquiring particular skills in my studies, such as quantitative data handling and health, safety and risk awareness, I could see how these could be transferred and used to my advantage in the logistics industry.”

David Williams concludes: “Education needs to take place at the grass-roots level with schools, so students can understand what logistics entails and what future they can have in this industry. If this is done successfully, we may have a chance at bridging the gap to help sustain growth in the UK’s logistics industry.”