Transport and logistics skills market still hot

Latest report on employment trends finds recruitment periods are lengthening as employers search for the right skills and experience

Transport and logistics skills market still hot
Transport and logistics skills market still hot
October 18, 2012

Demand for skills remains high in the transport and logistics sector, employment and recruitment firm Hays has found.

The company notes in its October-December Hays Quarterly Report that fleet controllers, multi-combination (MC) drivers
and sea freight operators remain in demand as employers make strategic hires.

"Employers are looking for candidates with like-for-like experience, including in the same industry and on the same systems," Hays Logistics Senior Regional Director Tim James says.

"More strategic in their hires, employers are also taking their time when they recruit to ensure that each placement is the right person for the job.

"As a result, the recruitment process has lengthened.

"We advise candidates need to sharpen their existing skills and industry experience to enhance their value.

"Employers, meanwhile, need to be aware that candidate shortages still exist in many areas.

"Many organisations have invested in retention strategies to keep their best people, so there’s still a shortage of high-quality candidates for certain roles, particularly those that require excellent leadership skills or very specific experience."

In the transport market, demand is for transport operations managers, as companies attempt to create a stronger market presence, along with transport coordinators with specific backgrounds, such as heavy haulage or bulk fuel experience.

Fleet controllers are also needed.

In the logistics field, import/export coordinators, customs compilers, cartage coordinators and parts interpreters are all needed.

In general, quality candidates with the right experience are difficult to find.

Hays’s analysis is that the preference for organisations to cut outsourcing costs by bringing the import/export coordinator function in-house, as well as new organisations establishing their presence and people moving into the resource sector have together seen the pool of available candidates shrink.

"However, salaries for these professionals are becoming inconsistent as companies realise the importance of a good fleet controller and use salary as part of their retention effort," it says.

"Those companies unwilling to offer higher wages struggle to attract good candidates."

"We are seeing demand for MC drivers as the resources industry continues to attract drivers away from the general market.

"There is also a shortage of container handlers with experience and import sea freight operators, given the ageing workforce."

Within warehousing, demand exists for inventory controllers, distribution centre managers and warehouse supervisors as third-party logistics firms win new contracts.

The warehousing market remains one of high turnover.

"As we approach Christmas and the New Year, the FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] industry will be in its peak business period, which will result in a greater number of vacancies becoming available," the Hays report says.

"Within logistics we are seeing demand for supply chain and demand analysts, supply chain managers and master schedulers due to both a shortage of these skills and the desire from organisations to make their processes more efficient."

What is sought

Expanding on the themes identified generally across Australian recruiting, the report says candidates have become more selective and "are looking for roles that offer more than just money.

"They want to take the next step in their career, which is why they are consistently looking for a role offering progression and training, access to a good mentor, succession planning, interesting projects and roles that stretch their existing skills.

"Many candidates also tell us they want a change as they feel they have not been rewarded for the work they have done.

"They are also looking for employers that offer stability and security. Perhaps that’s why they are taking the time to conduct thorough research and ensure they are well informed about a prospective employer before they proceed with interviews."

For employers, given that they need to justify headcount increases, like-for-like skills and the ability of candidates to display long-term loyalty with a genuine reason to move are highlighted as crucial.

Such candidates who have also worked in large, established organisations are also at an advantage.

"This more strategic approach has lengthened the recruitment process as employers take their time to ensure that each placement is the right person for the job," the report says.

"Of course, this also increases the risk of missing out on high quality candidates to other organisations with swifter processes.

"Such fast-moving organisations are looking to the future and hiring for the long-term.

"While some companies have recruitment freezes in place, others are taking advantage by securing hard to find, high quality staff."

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