Supply chain staff shortages are adversely impacting many industries across the globe, most notably, the eCommerce fulfilment and transport industries, leading to an increase in demand for supply chain management professionals.
E-commerce companies are struggling to find staff members to manage packaging and shipping, whilst the transport sector can’t find enough commercial drivers to transport products across countries and all for multiple reasons.
This supply chain staff shortage has many negative consequences for businesses. For example, as companies have increased wages to attract workers to the field, this increases downstream costs, thus affecting the price of the services that the eCommerce and trucking industries deliver and hence profitability, and of course, lack of staff is also causing delays and disruptions in supply chains in all sectors and markets.
What has Caused The Ongoing Talent Crisis?
Some critical factors that have led to the supply chain staff shortage include:
- Demographic changes: The population is ageing, and this means there are fewer working-age people to take on the jobs in the eCommerce and trucking industries. In the UK, the average age of HGV drivers is such that 45% of active drivers will reach retirement age in the next 5 years – demonstrating this is not an easily solved problem – the number of UK HGV drivers has fallen from 268,000 in June 2020 to 237,000 now
- Increased benefits: When people receive benefits like health care and childcare benefits, this can make them turn away from this sector where lower echelon roles can be hours based or casual.
- Lack of training programs: The lack of training and skills for certain jobs has also led to a shortage of qualified workers in more skilled areas.
Here are three other factors that have contributed to the ongoing staffing crisis:
The Covid-19 pandemic has accentuated the worsening labour market trends. In fact, researchers have said that the pandemic has resulted in one of the worst job crises since the Great Depression. This current job crisis will almost certainly lead to increased poverty and widening inequalities. As a result, businesses need to create a more resilient labour market.
Brexit has also worsened the UK’s labour situation – with many EU workers returning to their home country in the past two years – during the pandemic.
As a result, the UK is experiencing the absence of many workers in crucial industries such as transportation, agriculture, meat production, and more. This has led to widespread consumer panic in the UK with fuel shortages and warnings that thousands of livestock could be culled.
Consequently, the government has introduced temporary visas for truck drivers and poultry workers. The government has also increased wages to attract more employees to these critical industries. Unfortunately, this has raised prices for many goods and services for the UK people while not resolving the problem as the number of foreign national HGV drivers fell from 42,000 in June 2020 to 31,000 in May 2022
Changing Landscape of UK Employees
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many employers have increased salaries to attract candidates and retain existing employees.
Moreover, many companies have started offering more benefits like 4-day working weeks and hybrid working models. These benefits help employees create better work-life balance, not always possible in fast moving, always active supply chain environments.
The UK is also experiencing significant staff shortages in the technology and hospitality sectors, and the demand for employees in these sectors and thus competitive pressures will only increase.
How To Make Supply Chain a Desirable Career Choice
Many people think that supply chain management is limited to “Trucks and Sheds” and the amazing array of roles that are both fulfilling, challenging and rewarding are often not just over looked but often not even considered by young graduates and job seekers looking for new careers. Clearly something needs to be done especially as we have an ageing workforce and reducing numbers,. We need to create better awareness of the supply chain industry.
These are big areas to address and these can only really be addressed at a national level (Institutes, Big Organisations etc) and even at a government level (as it is critical to UK economic growth) to get it on the radar of job seekers.
One way companies can help to solve the talent shortage issue is by encouraging more women to get jobs in the supply chain industry. The haulage industry estimates that there is a shortfall of up to 100,000 HGV drivers, yet only between 1% and 3% of truckers are female. Transport firms offered thousands of pounds in incentives to sign-on much-needed lorry drivers and Industry organisations are currently planning to send female HGV drivers into schools aiming to highlight this as a career.
This is a complex problem to solve that cannot be solved overnight but at a company level could be alleviated by the right company image, picking the right recruitment firm, eg Supply Chain bias, offer apprenticeships, work placements, partner with colleges or university links. There are amazing opportunities for careers in the supply chain sector.