It’s no secret there’s a skills shortage in the logistics industry. But if you asked anyone where this shortage prominently lies, they would most likely say for HGV drivers. While this is true and has been a struggle for some time now post-Brexit, what is becoming increasingly clearer, is that the demand is spread right across the entire sector.

The logistics industry underpins every sector of the UK economy, playing a vital role in getting goods from A to B, and in return, it requires specialised skills and offers vast employment opportunities. It’s estimated that around 1.8 million people are in a logistics role across the UK (according to statistics from Logistics UK’s Logistics Report 2023). Given the importance and scale of the logistics industry, why are we struggling to fill the roles?

Of course, there are various elements at play here. For example, the rapidly changing needs of businesses and the ageing population. Those aside, one of the key struggles that the industry continues to face, and one of the main blockers to bringing in new talent, is the lack of awareness of the industry and the scale of roles available.

For instance, three of the main areas of the industry which are currently facing recruitment challenges are customs, IT and operational. For customs in particular, there is a challenge with companies wanting customs knowledge paired with road freight knowledge, but the two often don’t go hand in hand. In the past few years, customs experience has become quite limited, and we need to start getting to the root cause of this.

If you went into schools and asked children what they want to do when they’re older, you would probably hear the following jobs listed: vet, teacher, lawyer, nurse, etc. While Customs Clearance Coordinator is unsurprisingly not thrown into the mix, logistics roles often don’t get a look in at all. Mainly due to the fact that the younger generation, and a concerning proportion of the wider, don’t really know what logistics is and the range of job roles it entails.

This is where Generation Logistics comes in. Entering its second year having recently announced continued support from the government, Generation Logistics is working hard to promote the broad variety of skills needed for the next wave of logistics talent and most importantly, showcase it as an exciting industry to be a part of.

Backed by an impressive ambassador network, Generation Logistics is looking to raise the profile of logistics from an angle that has never been done before, debunking stereotypes that have existed for some time now, and shining light onto the incredible opportunities that are available for everyone in the industry.

From the moment you click on the Generation Logistics website you are greeted by a robotic arm, it’s all about showcasing that the industry isn’t just about trucks and forklifts, it’s full of innovation and potential.

One of the key ways Generation Logistics is spreading this message is by focusing on the long-term solution of the skills shortage, focusing on those aged 13-24. In doing so, they’re getting a presence in schools.

It’s undeniable the impact schools play in influencing careers selection for young people. Over the years, when selecting representatives from various industries to come into schools and discuss careers, sadly logistics just hasn’t made the cut. Generation Logistics is working hard to change this, they’re working closely with decision makers to demonstrate the opportunities it presents through quality-assured, curriculum-mapped resources.

From personal experience, the main challenge is just getting people through the doors. Once someone starts a career in logistics, they tend to stay in the industry for the rest of their lives. So it’s all about getting the message out there and making logistics more attractive, and through initiatives like Generation Logistics, we can secure talent right from the off set, where they can then build a loyal, lifelong career.

Richard Litchfield, MD, Innovate Freight