Logistics sector faces significant skills shortage as new recruits lack technical skills for 21st century roles - CILT(UK)
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Logistics sector faces significant skills shortage as new recruits lack technical skills for 21st century roles

20 April 2015/Categories: CILT, Industry News, Freight Forwarding, Logistics & Supply Chain

A report out today finds local young people are making decisions about qualifications with a skewed view of the career paths available and little awareness of the jobs market ahead of them.

The report, commissioned by Baker Dearing Educational Trust, identified that despite projected rapid growth in the logistics sector there is an intrinsic lack of young talent being attracted to join this important sector. This can be attributed to the outdated perceptions of young people and their parents that logistics is a low-skilled industry associated with cold, dirty warehouses. Local employers say the reality is quite the opposite and perceptions haven’t evolved in-line with changes. 

There is also a general lack of awareness of the diversity of the roles and career paths available in the logistics sector, including apprenticeships. The responsibility of careers advice in England shifted to schools in 2012 but there are concerns about the quality and impartiality of this approach. The report recommended that the labour market requirements of the local area need to be better understood and communicated to young people.

Presenting the findings at an event staged today at Magna Park in Lutterworth  - the UK and Europe’s largest dedicated distribution and logistics park - report co-author and former CEO Skills for Logistics, Dr. Ross Moloney said: 
'Our research found the aging profile of workers in logistics is a real concern for businesses and creates an urgent need for employers to engage with schools in a new way.  Employers agree that they must consider a range of education models including University Technical Colleges to meet skills gaps.' 

Leicestershire sits in an unrivalled geographic position and is home to a thriving economy worth over £20bn and providing 487,000 jobs to the local/national economy. Nearly 35,000 businesses have premises in the region – known as the so-called 'Logistics golden triangle' due to its unrivalled location. The logistics sector directly employs over 46,000 people (one in ten across the area) making it the area’s third largest employer (ONS, 2015).

Today also saw the announcement by IDI Gazeley – the developers behind the planning and management of Magna Park - of plans to extend the existing 550 acre warehousing and location park by a further 6 million sq ft in the face of increasing demand from existing businesses on the park for space and other operators seeking to come to the development.

Magna Park Lutterworth is IDI Gazeley’s flagship UK distribution park and one of the largest and most successful sustainable distribution and logistics parks across Europe.  It is home to 29 different occupiers occupying in excess of 9 million sq ft (922,000 sq m) of sustainable floor space.  It employs in excess of 9,000 people from the local community in a range of different types of roles related to logistics and distribution.

Commenting on the announcement Gwyn Stubbings, Planning Director at IDI Gazeley said: 
'Our plans to further establish Magna Park Lutterworth as one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated dedicated sustainable logistics and distribution parks, creating an overall site footprint in excess of 14 million sq ft will take place over a number of years, and when complete will create a further 7,000 jobs – bringing the total number of jobs on the park to about 16,000. 
'With the growth levels the logistics sector is experiencing the demand for technically skilled people drastically outweighs supply. We urgently need to attract new talent, skills and professional qualifications  into the industry and that is why we are leading the call for strong links within education. We are very excited about the opportunity that a dedicated logistics University Technical College would present at Magna Park and look forward to developing the initiative as part of our wider proposals.'

Employers who took part in interviews for the report argued that the sector was becoming more technical and more than half of them said they do not believe that new recruits have the necessary technical skills for the 21st Century sector.

As technology advances the skills required are changing to meet them. Advanced automation, software systems and high tech advances in warehousing and tracking systems means IT skills are now essential. There are also roles that require high-level expertise in applied mathematics and statistics for analysing data and to collate and interpret technical reports. Programmers, software engineers and data analysts are now required in the logistics sector to meet the demand for online consumer facing technical systems. 

Rachel North, Logistics School of Excellence Co-ordinator at Office Depot said: 
'Young people do not understand what logistics entails and still consider it to be ‘trucks and warehouses’ so they do not apply for positions and we lose out on the talent they represent. More employers value work experience than academic or vocational qualifications so there are job opportunities at many different levels.'

Lord Baker, chair of Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity behind UTCs, said
 'It is essential that young people have a good understanding of the opportunities available to them and the skills requirements of the local labour market are communicated to them so they are well prepared and make good decisions about their pathways to join the world of work. Developing and nurturing an ambitious future workforce will directly contribute to the success of our economy. University Technical Colleges are playing an important role in helping to train the next generation with the skills local businesses need. We look forward to receiving applications for UTCs from groups across the region.' 

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