Back to the issue of skills shortages

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If there’s one subject I encounter wherever I go in Europe, it’s the question of the shortage of relevant skills in the logistics industry. Of course, this shortage varies in form from country to country but the underlying problem does not bode well for European competitiveness in the longer term.

So what’s to be done? Somehow, we in the supply chain industry are failing to attract both young talent and those already established in other sectors manifestly offering fewer opportunities. Of course, some of the blame for this can be laid at the door of short-term economic factors – if things slow down, so do supply chains and moving to another industry is not always the first thought when your job is in jeopardy. But we are not always our own best advocates and can afford to make more of what we do. There really is a case for making more fuss about successful supply chains, the practice that makes them work, and the skilled people who drive this.

However, I also see strong evidence indicating that many outside the industry see the supply chain either as fragmented or as something of an impenetrable mystery. It is here that the ELA and its member associations can do, and are doing, a great deal to help by spreading an understanding of good standards of supply chain practice and setting standards and qualifications that are recognised across Europe. This latter point is an important factor in improving employment flexibility and, in time, helping balance the skills shortage equation.

All this being said, much more can be done to establish the facts so that efforts to tackle the problem can be targeted with greater accuracy. It is for this reason the ELA gives its support to projects and surveys that seek to ascertain levels of logistics activity and so on. I’m particularly pleased to welcome the Logistics Europe/IBM Value Chain Survey that will add to the body of knowledge. Described fully on page 15, this is an activity where ELA’s unique network of member associations Provides unrivalled access to a Europe-wide set of logistics practitioners. I have no doubt that many of you reading this will soon receive a questionnaire. In the interest of a better understanding of current issues I urge you to respond.

Graham A Ewer, ELA President

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