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The workforce challenges in today's Supply Chain and Logistics

Industries are experiencing competition to secure warehouse labour and are in the race to win an ava...

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Posted by Dave Food on Jul 5, 2021 8:43:08 PM
Dave Food

Industries are experiencing competition to secure warehouse labour and are in the race to win an available skilled workforce. To worsen this impasse, customer’s expectations about delivery time grew exponentially in 2020.  Businesses try to deliver continuous and in-time operational recovery whilst creating work conditions that make it simpler to attract, train and retain associates. Recent research groups conducted a survey focusing on those interviewing or hiring personnel for Materials Handling, Logistics, and SC operations. 68 from various industries, encompassing pharmaceuticals, computer and electronics, food, tobacco, beverage, and retail, representing many Canada, USA, México and even South America. 

The skills demand to meet these challenges - More than half of responders mentioned they are highly prepared. Still, they found persistent challenges in the warehousing and distribution sector, finding that training and retaining personnel was more complex through the pandemic.  However, nearly 4% of organisations still have no plans in place.

 Actions to take to address lack of talent 

  • They are re-engineering SC operations and modernising processes.
  • Improve workforce’s skills.
  • Implement new technologies.
  • They are establishing cross-functional training. 
  •  Improve skills in your workforce.
  • Hiring and training veterans.
  • Offer mentorship programs.
  • Implement and get more robust retention practices.
  • Establish awareness campaigns to open up students to industry.

 Top hiring areas to support current and future disruptions

  • Warehouse workers (floor operations, repair technicians, maintenance, order pickers.) 
  • Warehouse management (managers, supervisors, shift leaders.) 
  • Business analytics.
  • IT–SC systems and applications. 
  • E-commerce - e-fulfilment - Order management.
  • Supplier management and Procurement/SC strategy/ End-to-end SC Management.
  • Inventory management solutions (i.e. WIP.) 
  • Customer relationships.
  • Transportation, Logistics (truck drivers, eCommerce fulfilment, Order Management.
  •  Inventory management solutions.
  • SC system and applications.
  • Business Analytics and Demand planning.
  • Labour management.
  • Lean management (e.g. Six Sigma) 

Ten of the most wanted positions are:

  • Warehouse workers as the ones mentioned above. 
  • Warehouse management.
  • SC Management, Procurement strategy and end-to-end SC management. 
  • Customer relationships.
  • Transportation and Logistics (including truck drivers.)
  • Demand planning experts. 
  • E-commerce/e-fulfilment/Order management.
  • Inventory management solutions. 
  • IT– SC systems and applications.
  • Business Analytics experts.

Unluckily, a highly prepared individual entering the job market is only 2.7% and compared with 72% considered to be somewhat ready to meet industry challenges. 

The jobs most challenging to find qualified-suitable talent? - Warehouse workers - Customer relationships expert (18.9%.)- Skilled trades, i.e., electricians, machinists, plumbers, welders, forklift drivers/ mechanics, EOT crane operators/technicians, automation technicians - Transportation and logistics roles - Warehouse management (16.7%.)

What are the top challenges you encounter? - Right now, most companies declared that finding skilled candidates is by far their biggest labour challenge.  Main concerns encompass potential candidates who lack real-world practice experience, whilst others are not educated in SC, Logistics or fulfilment operations.  Leaders consider that competitions for workers are too much, and others mentioned that getting the funding they need to grow their workforce is not enough.

The background, knowledge or skills are essential in the next 3-5 years - Like most industries nowadays, the manufacturing environment changes as businesses design their digital courses and get new ways to value future operations.  Business analytics and end-to-end SCM skills are two of the essential abilities new job candidates will need. 

  • Industries demand experience and commitment above all.
  • Background, knowledge and skills in machinist, electricians, plumbers, welders, forklift drivers/mechanics, EOT crane operations/ technicians, automation technicians, maintenance and repair technicians.  
  • Those who possess customer relationship skills.
  • Those who bring warehouse-floor-operation knowledge.

Job candidates with backgrounds in SC strategy will be in demand.

How prepared are candidates entering the job market in these areas? Nearly all companies considered that those entering the job market are either somewhat prepared or unprepared to accept the challenges of the present-day fulfilment environment. Only 4.2% of respondents think these individuals are highly ready.  The main reasons candidates are unqualified are that today’s edge technology challenges them - The overall environment is changing too quickly - Younger candidates lack good communication skills or customer interface skills and experience. 

Which competencies are most important to these working areas? - At the top are: having problem-solving and analytical skills (47.1%), possessing reliable-work ethic Have hands-on teaching/training experience with real-world applications/situations; having communication skills, influential leadership, awareness of industry trends; experience with materials handling automation, business skills. Have relevant technical training. Knowledgeable in the latest technologies; negotiation skills, international skills and foreign language command.

Companies plan to implement an apprenticeship or internship program supported by high schools, 2-year technical schools, or 4-year community colleges and universities and graduate programs; investing in talent development, organisations can work on a pipeline of skilled workers, enhancing their productivity bottom lines. 

Leaders’ agreement with the following statements: 

-        Universities need to spend more time on developing the candidate ‘people skills.’

-        Lack of workers willing to enter the manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution industries at floor level positions.

-        There is a shortage of skilled individuals entering the materials handling, Logistics and SC job market.

-        There is a lack of relevant skills among those seeking working positions.

-        The materials handling, logistics, and SC labour pool is shrinking.

-        Job candidates generally can apply what they learned in the classroom to the real-life workplace.

Final comments: as SC networks are recovering from the worst global SC disruption in history, businesses are redesigning their SC structures and implementing strategies to improve resilience by re-valuating labour strategies and reviewing safety stocks to improve fulfilment processes. Automation plus robotics for the fulfilment of operations will continue with the collaboration of mobile robots, or “cobots,” Traditional automation and goods-to-person systems can generate excellent pick rates to limit labour requirements.

Have you updated your staff’s skills, training, internships to face the lack of talent and ongoing digital transformation?




Prophetic Technology

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