By Lewis Richards, Managing Director of WR Logistics.

In recent years, skills shortages have been ever-present within the UK logistics sector. However, there are a number of cultural and economic factors threatening to worsen these gaps. Uncertainty over Brexit, an aging workforce, and automation could all potentially turn this shortage to a crisis.

With the TUC claiming it would need ‘up to 5,000 extra people to cope’ with Brexit-related challenges, and 10% of commercial drivers hailing from EU countries, it’s clear innovative solutions are needed. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, and there are many ways that businesses can retain access to talent.

Training and development

Offering training and development is a great way for logistics firms to both retain and attract workers. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, a whopping 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. Separate research by professional services company Deloitte also found that a lack of opportunities for progression is the main reason that employees leave a business.

Staff retention

The cost of replacing staff can be exorbitant when functions such as lost profitability, training costs and unrecoverable salaries are taking in to account. Therefore, too much expenditure in this department could be crippling to a business’s bottom line. For this reason, employee retention should be a top priority to logistics firms.

This is even more important for the logistics sector, where access to talent is such an issue. To boost retention, businesses need to build cultures that engender satisfaction and engagement, with studies showing that 88% of millennials believe that being part of the right company culture is very important.

Young talent

In the long term, logistics has to attract young workers. The current workforce is approaching a retirement cliff, with 9% of workers under 25, and 45% over 45 years old. To combat this, industry figures need to get in front of young audiences to talk about the benefits of working in logistics.

Careers advice also needs to be improved across the board, and students need exposure to industry at key decision making stages. Another way to target young workers is via apprenticeships – which are becoming increasingly popular as more people shy away from university.

Employer brand

A strong employer brand is key to attraction and retention, with 72% of recruiting leaders around the world agreeing that employer brand has a significant impact on hiring. With further research from LinkedIn stating that a company with a strong employer brand sees a 43% decrease in the cost per candidate they hire – this could significantly benefit the bottom line.

Non-traditional working

There is an increased desire for non-traditional working arrangements such as flexible working, especially amongst young people. In fact, according to a survey by International Working Group, 83% of employees around the world would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working. The survey, which recorded 15,000 respondents across 80 countries, showed that that 71% of businesses believe that offering flexible working enables them to expand their talent pool.

A multi-faceted approach

Ultimately, there is no panacea for the logistics talent shortages, and businesses will need to follow a multi-faceted approach to solve the problem. However, by taking on the tried and tested methods above, the industry can start to make progress– and ensure that they are successful for years to come.