The UK logistics sector needs to revamp its image if it is to overcome a looming shortage of fresh talent, according to a leading industry academic.
 
Addressing a recruitment and training seminar, hosted by the Shippers’ Voice at Multimodal 2012, Professor David Grant of the University of Hull Logistics Institute, said educating the public was key to tackling the fact that 76% of the logistics workforce are male and 44% are over the age of 45.
 
“It’s up to us as educators and practitioners to make people aware of the importance of logistics,” he said.
 
“Three-quarters of the public don’t understand this sector, so we need to educate everybody across the board – governments, schools, neighbours, friends – that we are important; that we generate £75 billion to GDP.”
 
He added: “We also need to be honest. We need to sell the benefits, but also the pathway – that you might need to slog it out in the warehouse or in fleet planning before you get to the big jobs. My first job as a junior draughtsman, for example, involved running blueprints and fetching ice cream, but you need to do those kinds of things.”
 
Seminar chairman Larry Woelk, of supply chain recruiter Bis Henderson, added: “When I talk with candidates and clients I ask how they got into this business and 95% say they got in by accident. It’s no wonder that the supply chain is suffering from a lack of good managers and talent.”
 
Other guests highlighted the commercial benefits of investing in fresh recruits.
 
DSV Road Sales Director Chris Malyon also addressed the seminar and, in an interview with Lloyd’s Loading List.com, described the impact that a new graduate scheme was having on the business.
 
“We took on 10 graduates in September who attended our sales academy and they have been out working as sales executives since December.
 
“Although it is a steep learning curve, they all sold in their first month and every one of them has seen increased month-on-month sales since.”
 
“In September, none of them had ever worked in freight and logistics, but they are keen and fresh and it’s a pleasure to work with them. I have confidence that they will all be successful.”