How do you solve a problem like the skills shortage?

By Dale Benton
Alongside the improvements and additions to infrastructure, the skills shortage remains one of the biggest challenges the logistics industry faces today...

Alongside the improvements and additions to infrastructure, the skills shortage remains one of the biggest challenges the logistics industry faces today.

The economy is growing -  albeit at a slower pace than anticipated - and with it consumer demand is on the up. Consumer demand is on the up and as is the speed in which consumers expect these services. Over recent years we’ve seen expected delivery time go from 7-10 days to 3-5, to next day, and now many top retailers are offering same day delivery. Yet over the same period, we’ve seen concern rise over an aging professional HGV driver workforce and a shortage of new candidates creating the skills shortage.

These two contrasting strands are painting a mixed picture of the economic climate. On the one hand, we’re seeing an increase in consumer confidence pushing the demand for goods yet, on the other, if the skills shortage fails to keep up the same pace we will inevitably hit a breaking point.

The demand for online shopping is expected to continue rising, but firms are at risk of being left behind if they fail to tackle skills shortage. Now the onus is on all of us to address it before we hit breaking point.

The UK offers one of the most advanced logistics industry in the world. Technology and innovation are driving the sector forwards but we are neglecting the very foundations that it is built on: a competent workforce. Certainly, Government could be doing more to help the industry by way of investing in infrastructure and introducing targeted actions to address the skills shortage, but companies cannot bypass their duty. And responsibility to change this lies with every business across the supply chain. There’s lots of effort being made and we should maintain momentum. 

As workforce suppliers to the sector we are very much intertwined in this issue that is stretching the industry. Particularly, we have monitored an increasing disparity in the levels of qualified HGV drivers; in recent months, we have seen an increase in demand from our client base but at the same time we are getting fewer qualified HGV drivers on our books. The demand from our clients will not decrease so we need to start looking at ways to bring in more qualified drivers to match the demand.

At Transline, we have launched open days to retrain drivers and introduce candidates to a new career path. Employment opportunities off the back of these training days are often offered and bit by bit we are seeing workers return to and join the industry. But more must be done to bring new recruits to logistics.

Apprenticeships, education and training all need to lie at the heart of any push for progression. We need to be prepared to invest in training. If we look to invest in new recruits, not only will we be setting them up a stable career path in an industry on the up, but as a sector we will make progression towards tackling the skills shortage. 

Now is the time for us to sow generously in attracting, training and retaining candidates and we will reap the benefits for years to come.


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