Five ways to tackle your logistics skills shortage

Five ways to tackle your logistics skills shortage

The transport and logistics sector faces a multitude of challenges when it comes to talent, from driver shortages and skills gaps to an ageing workforce. What’s more, research detailed in our downloadable Talent in Logistics Whitepaper “Changing Perceptions: Attracting Young Talent into Logistics” found that only 8% of young respondents felt that logistics was an attractive career option.

So, what can businesses do to help address this logistics skills shortage?

We asked a number of experts from our sector for their take on this all-important issue.

“To anyone facing skills shortage, I would urge them to think differently,” says Jennifer Swain, Head of Talent Acquisition at Clipper Logistics, whose Fresh Start campaign won a Talent in Logistics Award last year. “Applying the same recruitment methods as you did during times when candidates were abundant will only result in failure. It is important to be strategic and think about how you can create further reach.”

Professor Edward Sweeney, Director of the Logistics and Systems Institute at Aston University builds on this.

“Talent retention is just as important as talent attraction,” he says. “Make sure that current staff at all levels are fully empowered and operating in a high-performance team environment. In this context, keep staff apprised of developments in the company and the wider supply chain of which it is part.”

“Always have one eye on the future,” says Sally Gilson, Head of Skills at the Freight Transport Association (FTA). “Think about how you’re developing your workforce and where your skills gaps are.”

But what could that mean in practice?

Here are 5 top tips from Talent in Logistics to attract and develop new talent, helping to protect the future of the logistics industry.

1. Be a great place to work!

Start by making your company a great place to work. If your current employees are happy then news will spread, and other people will want to come and work for you. Jennifer Swain from Clipper agrees.

“One of the main areas for businesses to address is the strength and visibility of your brand and your Employer Value Proposition,” says Jennifer Swain of Clipper.

2. Focus on youth recruitment in your logistics operations

Does your business offer younger employees the things that are important to them in a job?

Having a diverse and inclusive culture, a strong environment strategy, a happy and supportive workplace and ways to develop and succeed are all attractive propositions to millennial and Generation Z workers. Make sure you tell younger potential employees about these things when you market your opportunities and your business as a workplace. Don’t be an #OKBoomer !

The world of transport and logistics can offer many people long-term careers with fantastic development opportunities, yet our White Paper found that young people are unaware of this. It’s vital that you tell them!

3. Look at alternative labour sources

While youth employment and engaging with schools and colleges is important, there are other groups which could fill vital roles in our sector. For instance, what about mothers returning to work after maternity leave? Dads wanting a career change? Or how about the older generation that could enjoy some time on the road as an HGV driver now their children have grown up and left home?

When recruiting for a role, think about how you can sell your roles and your organisation to different groups. “Consider flexible working and changing shift patterns to attract full time parents and retired people or reach out to ex-offenders or individuals with disabilities,” suggests Clipper’s Jennifer Swain.

4. Be competitive

When trying to attract candidates into logistics roles, it’s not enough to offer something comparable to other warehouse or haulage businesses. You’re competing for these candidates with roles in other industries, from retail to fast food outlets. To be truly competitive, you need to show potential employees what you can offer that they don’t.

Once talent is on board, it’s then vital to keep it.

“Your workforce will be more engaged if you invest in them,” adds FTA’s Sally Gilson. “Keep training going throughout employees careers and this will help with staff retention. If staff feel valued, they are much less likely to leave.”

5. Keep up with changes in the logistics sector

Our sector is constantly changing, so it’s important to think ahead and keep up with the next logistics challenges.

For instance, many businesses are looking at ways to ‘remove the need’ for staff. One proposed solution in the transport sector is modal shift, which could enable more freight to be transported by rail rather than road, making the LGV driver shortage less of an issue for employers.

There are similar considerations around reverse logistics and making lorry runs more productive. As well as the obvious positive environmental impact, it is more cost-effective to ensure that trucks come back to depot with full loads, while also requiring less drivers.

Professor Edward Sweeney raises the importance of ‘image shift’ when it comes to tackling skills shortage, moving “away from dirty trucks and big sheds to environmentally sustainable, globally connected and technologically advanced supply chains.”

Likewise, to protect the environment there is a need to educate people on the impact of ordering items online despite intending to return many of them. These returns have a big environmental impact that reaches further than just the transport and fuel costs, packaging for example. However, reducing returns also lessens the requirement for delivery vehicles on the road and those that drive them.

But how might trends like these affect your business operation and the recruitment and development of your people?

This is one of the ways in which our 2020 calendar of Talent in Logistics Conferences can help you!

Talent in Logistics Develop Conference

Created with logistics training professionals in mind, a key focus of the Talent in Logistics Develop Conference is future skills challenges and how you can address employee development challenges. Join us for the conference on Wednesday 22nd January 2020 at Hotel Football in Manchester to learn more from sector experts and your peers. Register for the Develop Conference.

Talent in Logistics Engage Conference

The next event of the year is our Engage Conference, focused on core topics such as how to engage with employees to increase productivity, reduce staff turnover, improve absence and safety incident rates. It takes place on 21st April 2020 at the Cranfield Management Development Centre in Bedford. Book tickets or find out more.

Live Forklift Operator and LGV Driver Competitions

The Talent in Logistics Live Competitions are dedicated to recognising and rewarding the Forklift Operators and LGV Drivers that keep the logistics sector moving every day. What better way to show you value the talent in your organisation and encourage employee loyalty?

The Forklift Operator of the Year competition roadshow will take place at venues across the UK in June 2020, while the LGV Driver of the Year competition will culminate with a live final on 23rd June at Newark Showground, Nottinghamshire.

Entries for the live competitions open in January 2020, and close in April. Enter now!

Winners of both competitions will be announced at the Talent in Logistics Awards in October 2020. Details of this prestigious event, dedicated to celebrating the best talent in logistics and transport, will be announced soon. Register your interest in the Talent in Logistics Awards to be the first to know all the details!

Talent in Logistics Attract Conference

The Talent in Logistics Attract Conference, on 10th September 2020 at the GTG Training Centre in Wolverhampton, is focused on helping you learn how to reach the range of potential employees needed to bridge the skills gap in the transport and logistics sector. Register your place now!

If you have any questions about our 2020 Talent in Logistics Event Calendar, don’t hesitate to get in touch!