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Industry reports skills shortages biting hard

Industry Reference Committee survey findings look worse than Volvo’s last year


The proportion of transport and logistics employers reporting skills shortages is nearing 90 per cent, according to Transport and Logistics Industry Reference Committee (T&L IRC) findings.

The figure was published in the Transport and Logistics IRC key findings discussion paper,which will be used to inform its next training package.

The paper notes that 87.17 per cent of employers reported experiencing a skills shortage in the 12 months to February with the occupations nominated being: truck drivers, educators, logistics supervisors and managers, warehousing staff, and forklift drivers

The reasons for the shortage were given as:

  • few skilled and/or qualified personnel available
  • ageing workforce and/or current staff retiring
  • unattractive remuneration and/or employment conditions
  • unattractive job and/or poor industry image
  • cost and/or time to achieve the required qualification.

The findings echo trucking research Volvo released last May but the outcome may be even more alarming.

With this and other challenges on their agenda, companies were exploring the impacts and opportunities of technological advance, particularly IT.

This includes automation and robotics along with other ‘disruptive technology’ and the Internet of Things (IOT), with IOT and omni-channel prevalent in the logistics sector responses.

The survey finds sustainability a crucial point, noting DHL’s belief that sustainable operating practices are increasingly part of key performance indicators within the industry.

“Supply chain sustainability goes much further than environmental compliance, extending to workforce sustainability,” the paper says.

“Companies are looking to streamline operations through savings on resourcing and improved productivity performance.”

This leads to the need for agile and responsive workers to meet the demands created by new technologies, automation and other innovations as they evolve.

But the finding also underline that older issues continue to be of concern, with any changes “made to the regulatory environments within the Transport and Logistics industry directly affects the workforce, with companies required to upskill or retrain workers to meet these requirements (e.g. fatigue management)”.

With the second-oldest workforce, many of whose number will leave in the next decade, a generational change under circumstanced demanding new skills would normally be a positive development, if not for the difficulty of gaining recruits.

“Compounding the issue is the increased use of subcontracting and other new forms of employment engagement within the industry,” the findings say.

“Stakeholders report that part of the difficulty attracting young drivers is that the occupation isn’t seen as a professional position which, when coupled with the industry’s poor perception in the broader community, amounts to a significant barrier.

“Career progression is often limited in driving roles and career pathways are often not clear.

“Growth tends to be within existing roles instead of progressing further in the industry.”

This is not helped by a lack of diversity in what is seen as a stereotypically ‘masculine’ sector, though women are on average better educated and hold comparatively more office jobs than their male counterparts.

The full report can be found here and comments by March 17 can be sent to


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