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Hot Sector Spotlight: Logistics

Published 9th May 2022

The logistics sector is one of the most exciting in the UK in terms of growth and technological advancements. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most frustrating as skills gaps continue to widen and pose a threat to the sector’s upward trajectory. 

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows the transport and logistics sector has expanded far faster than any other, including retail manufacturing and construction. While the pandemic impacted growth in certain sectors, the number of transport and logistics premises grew 21% since 2019 and doubled across the decade. 

Furthermore, investment in UK logistics totalled a record £6 billion during the first half of 2021, more than double the £2.7 billion recorded over the same period in 2019, with over half of 2021’s investment coming from overseas investors, according to a report by Knight Frank. 

It’s expanding too.

While the Midlands (a place we’ve come to know as the “golden logistics triangle”) carries a high concentration of logistics premises, there has been significant growth in the East of England and Yorkshire and The Humber, neither of which were previously associated with the industry. 

Despite such growth, the industry, which accounts for 8% of all UK employment, faces a severe skills shortage. According to a 2022 report by City & Guilds, logistics will have worker shortages of 400,000 by 2026.

The report also revealed a gender disparity when it comes to pursuing a career in logistics, with 33% of males surveyed declaring they would consider working in this field, compared to just 14% of women. Many employers are hyper-aware that a wider talent pool is required to recruit the skills they need and are working hard to make jobs traditionally occupied or perceived to be occupied by men more appealing, open and accessible to women. 

Is logistics suffering from a perception problem? 

Despite the sector delivering job security and ample opportunities for career development, there seems to be a mental block for some workers. Going back to the City & Guilds report, which included interviews with 10,000 workers from across the UK, only 23% of respondents said they would consider a job in logistics. 

Kirstie Donnelly, CEO at City & Guilds, commented: “In the face of a growing labour crisis that is impacting these vital industries and wider society, we need to collectively take a long, hard look at how we can make these jobs more attractive.”

What’s happening? 

To win the war on talent and attract fresh skills to the sector, the government and employers must work together to ensure these essential jobs appeal to workers.

Education is essential to reframe the logistics narrative. Having worked closely with logistics companies of all sizes for many years, we know it’s a hugely dynamic and fast-paced industry that offers numerous opportunities for advancement. One of the biggest misconceptions about logistics is that it’s lagging behind other sectors in terms of technological advances. In reality, it’s rapidly evolving thanks to investments in cutting edge tech such as driverless vehicles, blockchain and robotic automation, which is opening the door to a broader range of professionals.

Given that 70% of young people expect employers to invest in teaching them digital skills on the job, organisations are increasingly offering digital training in the latest systems and software. We hope such initiatives will attract millennial and Gen Z workforces who have grown up with technology as standard and are seeking roles that enable them to utilise and build upon their innate skills.

With attracting young workers key to ensuring a future for UK logistics, employers are also investing in apprenticeships. Trade association Logistics UK stated that apprenticeships are “essential” to tackle labour shortages and an ageing workforce, with the parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Transport, Trudy Harrison, commenting: “Apprenticeships can open doors to fantastic and rewarding careers in logistics. They bring forward new talent to help build and maintain our resilient supply chains – keeping stock moving and supermarket shelves full.” 

Offering apprenticeships also enables organisations to train workers on specific systems and processes, effectively moulding them for critical roles within the business while equipping them with the knowledge and expertise they need for a successful career in logistics.

There’s a lot of work to be done to plug the logistics skills gap, but as organisations continue to invest in innovative technology and explore ways to attract a new wave of workers, we’re confident it will remain a shining star in the UK economy for years to come.

Considering a career in logistics? 

We work with leading names and innovative startups in UK logistics who are currently on the lookout for talented and hard-working individuals to join their ranks. Contact our dedicated logistics recruitment team who can tell you more about the latest opportunities available that fit your skills, experience and career aspirations on 0161 828 8726 or email enquiries@mccarthyrecruitment.com.

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