In an address given to United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA), national chairman John Maguire expressed his worries about the current skills shortage in the country and explained that without more investment in training the UK domestic logistics market could be in grave danger.
According to Maguire, the UK’s domestic logistics industry is currently one of the strongest in the world and provides essential services that the country simply cannot do without, but research from the UKWA has shown that fewer and fewer young people are choosing to pursue a career within the industry which is creating a very real threat that could seriously damage the sector.
Annual General Meeting Speech Presents a Worrying Picture
In his speech, given at the Annual General Meeting of the UKWA held in London, Maguire explained that any industry can only develop or maintain its stronghold if new talent is attracted into the field but the lack of skills within UK logistics is becoming an extremely worrying issue.
Maguire stated that in order to meet the needs of the industry, the logistics sector must recruit more than 900,000 new employees by 2020, but more than one fifth of vacancies in the storage and transport sector are currently considered ‘hard to fill’ due to a serious lack of applicants who possess the required qualifications and skills like Chartered Institute of Purchase and Supply qualifications (CIPS).
Logistics Industry Lacks Hard and Soft Skills
Employees with ‘Soft skills’ such as communications and customer handling are already in high demand and there is a marked undersupply of staff with job specific skills, which are becoming increasingly important as the sector becomes more driven by globalization and new technology.
The predicted economic upturn could have a negative effect on the warehousing and logistics industry as companies will need more well trained and highly qualified people to meet the demands that will be placed upon them. According to Maguire, if the skills shortage is not addressed quickly and effectively the growing skills gap will result in reduced competitiveness and increased operation costs that the industry cannot afford to encounter.
Unified Approach will Address Skills Shortage
Maguire called for industry leaders to plan and agree a course of action to create a more unified and focused approach to training and development and ensure that more skilled workers choose the logistics industry for their career path, commenting that in order for any skill development scheme to work it must be carried out in a progressive and consistent way.
The UKWA chairman went on to say that at present, there is not sufficient cohesion within the sector to ensure the security of the industry over the coming decade, with larger firms finding it difficult to put aside competitive caps in order to address issues that are key to the continuing success of the industry. Maguire also cited commercial, cultural and historical barriers between large trade associations as a major barrier to preventing the industry to take a ‘unified approach’ to the skills shortage.