[STUDY] Logistics skills gap still cause for concern
Results from employers in the Logistics Employer Skills Survey showed they suffer from skills gaps across all occupational levels.
At least 21% of companies employing operational staff have personnel who are not fully proficient, but this increases to 31% for middle and junior management positions. Management levels are the least likely to have training arranged or provided for them.
Dr Ross Moloney, CEO of Skills for Logistics said: “The majority of employers are providing some form of training, mainly to comply with legislative requirements.
“However, the fact that they are not only recognising skills gaps but also their contributing factors, suggests that employers would like to undertake more. Employers will need to overcome these challenges if they wish to operate effectively and efficiently and remain competitive in the future. And they are challenges that can be overcome.
Communication, organising, planning and job specific skills were among the skills that employers identified as requiring improvement to ensure staff can do their job more efficiently. Management and leadership skills were recognised by more than half of employers as needing improvement.
The survey also found that a lack of funding or resources to undertake training augments skills gaps within companies, as does the lack of time to train and the inability to find appropriate training solutions.
Other findings from the study - which is downloadable from the SfL website - include the fact that staff recruitment, retention and development were considered to be a top challenge, alongside maintaining business operations.
Three quarters of all companies had recruited at least one person in the past 12 months, either to fill new posts through expansion or to fill gaps created by staff turnover. Most companies (87%) recruited operational level workers, while 42% recruited middle and junior management and 22% recruited director or senior management positions.
Dr Moloney continued: “In addition to providing the kind of sector intelligence found in this report, Skills for Logistics is here to help in ‘Attracting, Developing and Supporting’ employers, employees and those with an interest in the sector – be it through our range of schemes or our knowledge of how to source funding.
“We encourage you to get in touch and engaging with us as a positive step towards filling the skills gap.”
Most recruitment difficulties were seen at operational staff level, which includes the shortage of skilled drivers as well as warehouse operatives. The main reason for these difficulties appears to be the low number of applicants with the required skills. When employers recruit individuals without the full skills set for the job role, the inevitable knock on effect is a skills gap within the workforce.
The study finds positive notes in terms of sector performance, with more than half of employers reporting improvements in profitability, productivity and turnover, in comparison to the previous 12 months.
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.