Although currently buoyant, the logistics industry faces some significant challenges over the coming months and years. Brexit, whatever form it takes, may well provide considerable headaches in the short to medium term but it is the looming skills crisis that gives the most cause for concern further into the future. A driver shortage is beginning to bite and the forthcoming 5th anniversary of the introduction of the Driver CPC will inevitably see some older drivers deciding not to renew their qualification and subsequently drop out of the market.
Alarmingly for the industry, only 9% of the workforce is under 25 years of age but 45% is over 45 years of age. These are stark statistics; as people retire and leave the industry there are not the millennials coming through to replace them, even though Logistics is an industry that contributes over £120bn to the UK economy.
A recent survey by Talent in Logistics, an organisation ‘dedicated to the recruitment, development, engagement and retention of the 2.2 million+ people working in the transport, logistics and warehousing sector’, found that only 8% of young people consider the logistics sector to be an attractive career option.
The survey suggested that part of the reason for the lack of new, younger entrants to the industry is the perception among millennials that gender diversity is low and that there are few interesting or exciting roles within the sector. The survey showed that less than 20% of school and college leavers had received any information or guidance about career choices and the different roles available within the industry.
Ruth Edwards, Business Manager at Talent in Logistics, said: “We are calling upon the sector and the education system to play their part in ensuring young people are aware of the many amazing opportunities and career paths available within logistics.”
Given the shortfall in new, younger entrants to the industry, it is ironic, perhaps, that it is the demands of young people to get goods delivered ever more quickly (“Order before midnight and get delivery the next day”…) is forcing the logistics industry to become increasingly agile and sophisticated and thereby create ever interesting and challenging roles. Technology plays and huge role in moving goods efficiently around the country and there is a constant drive to innovate supply chains. We need to harness the talent of bright students coming out of school and university to make us world leaders in this field.
The threat of a No-deal Brexit and potential delays to freight traffic through ports and airports has prompted talk of shortages of food and pharmaceuticals, line-stoppages at major manufacturing plants and empty supermarket shelves. What clearer illustration could there be of the vital role that Logistics plays in the daily life of the nation?