The rise of technology in supply chain is a double-edged sword when it comes to labour issues, the CTO of DP World tells Supply Chain Digital.
Pradeep Desai is Group Chief Technology Officer for DP World, the global trade and logistics management services giant. He oversees the company's technology strategy, innovation, and digital transformation initiatives.
Desai says that although the technology-driven reimagining of supply chain can make it difficult to recruit key executives, technology is also playing a vital role in supporting – and elevating – a huge array of front line supply chain roles.
He says that supply chain labour shortages are most acute in countries with low unemployment, such as the US and Canada, where attracting people to supply chain roles is “a challenge”.
“Skilled workers across the supply chain and logistics sector are key to the industry’s growth,” says Desai. “The level of skill required to derive value from complex technology investments requires strong on-the ground-leadership, which can be hard to find.”
Compounding this problem, he adds, is the soaring demand for such expertise, driven by “the growth in ecommerce, nearshoring and the post-Covid overhaul of many supply chains has created an even stronger demand for talent”.
DP World supply chain training initiatives
Desai says DP World is creating the labour capacity it needs by “leveraging global partner networks and through robust internal training programs”.
In regions with high levels of unemployment and market uncertainty, Desai says the appetite for a stable company with the reputation and resources like DP World is “stronger”.
But he adds that the challenge in supply chain “is aligning the available skill sets in the market with a company’s current and future needs”.
He adds: “In developing countries, we see a workforce willing and able to work but perhaps in need of access to additional educational resources and training programmes.”
DP World is helping address the labour issue through training initiatives like DP World Academy in the Dominican Republic. This provides advanced education in logistics, ports, maritime, and manufacturing.
“The academy's vision is to be the premier logistics training centre in the region, fostering the development of local and international professionals to meet industry demands,” says Desai.
He adds: “ The training portfolio, based on DP World's global experiences, covers introductory courses, technical programs, certificates, and executive programs delivered in person, hybrid, and virtual formats by industry experts and company facilitators.”
“ DP World recognises the significance of training in shaping a skilled workforce for the future of logistics, to ensure people acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the evolving challenges of the industry," he continues.
Desai adds that DP World's commitment to training "reflects our dedication to fostering innovation, efficiency, and excellence within the logistics sector".
To this end, he says the company ensures employees “have the support and resources they need to efficiently onboard and advance”.
DP World: Supply chain tech 'elevating many roles'
Overhauling outdated manual processes," he says, "not only relieves workload but mitigates the risk of human error and drives efficiencies for low resourced teams”.
Desai adds that robotics and AI are “proving to be game-changers in balancing out labour problems”, by “automating systems, streamlining warehouse operations, enhancing efficiency, and mitigating the impact of labour shortages”.
He says that by eliminating repetitive tasks, technology allows workers to focus on more complex and strategic aspects of supply chain.
“It helps create higher-quality jobs,” he says.
As an example, he points to DP World’s Rotterdam World Gateway, which is a fully electric, automated warehouse, capable of supporting workers and enhancing efficiency.