Attracting talent: must try harder

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Seven out of ten parents don’t want their kids to be truckers – at least that’s what a Freight Transport Association found in a Twitter poll.

Not only that, supply chain and procurement management is hardly flavour of the month either, if a survey by recruiter Robert Walters is anything to go by. It found that 47 per cent of employers expect to face shortages of supply chain and procurement professionals this year – and one in five say this will be exacerbated by Brexit.

Malory Davies FCILT, Editor.

Malory Davies FCILT, Editor.

It’s hardly news that the industry has been struggling to recruit at all levels. In fact, back in 2005, Logistics & Supply Chain was asking: “So why does nobody want to drive a truck?”.

A report by the House of Commons Transport Committee last week found that the driver shortage is linked to a shortage of people willing to work in the industry, rather than a shortage of qualified people.

Low wages, inadequate roadside facilities and poor public perception were all highlighted as contributing factors to the shortage. Following that report the FTA asked: “Would you encourage your son or daughter to become a truck driver?” Some 71 per cent of those who voted said they wouldn’t recommend the industry to their children.

The Walters survey suggests that the challenges resulting from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union will exacerbate the management recruitment problem. James Franklin of Robert Walters, says: “With Britain having decided to leave the EU, employers will have to carefully examine their procurement and supply chain processes, as the UK negotiates trade deals with Europe.

“Furthermore, in this environment international supply chains are likely to be reviewed for UK businesses as potential tariffs could be imposed. This will drive demand for supply chain professionals who are able to deliver an increase in efficient practices, as the small margins are eroded further. British businesses will need to be shrewd to capitalise on the new economic environment.”

Of course, there have been worthwhile initiatives – the Novus degree scheme is an obvious example. And Sally Gilson, the FTA’s skills development policy manager, points out that the association has been working with the government and other agencies to make logistics a more aspirational career and to improve conditions for those working in it.

But logistics and supply chain does not exist in a vacuum. It is competing for talent with other industries – many of which present a more attractive image.

The simple fact is that logistics and supply chain needs to up its game if these skills shortages are not to get worse.


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