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Ecommerce faces logistics staff shortage as need for tech skills grows

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The UK ecommerce sector could be hit by a logistics staff shortage within five years as demand for technology skills rises, a trade body has warned.

A report by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) and Statista found that 54% of logistics companies expect skills shortages to grow over the next five years, compared to only 4% expecting the situation to improve. Meanwhile, 21% were uncertain as to their future recruitment ability.

The report found that office staff were the most in-demand, with 44% saying they had need of more. Vehicle drivers and warehouse workers were also likely to be in high demand, cited by 27% and 25% respectively.

The survey found 10% saying they had a high need for software engineers, underlining the sector’s transition to one more savvy in data and automation.

In terms of the barriers to recruitment, 42% cited a lack of job-specific skills. 23% said it was “problematic” to recruit staff with technology skills.

Twenty-nine percent cited lack of work experience as a barrier while 25% cited low wages.

The report also found that the UK’s exit from the European Union had not had an impact on staffing levels yet, with respondents uncertain about the future effect it might have.

The survey polled 62 people who had worked in logistics for at least two years between 15 February and 28 April of this year.

Kevin Richardson, CEO of CILT, said: “In terms of recruitment, the next few years are going to be a concern for logistics firms in the UK. We are seeing the uncertainty that surrounds Brexit is forcing the problem to worsen as employees seek to find career paths that offer more stability.

“There needs to be more done to attract talent to the industry. Logistics is hugely important to the UK economy, and if the sector is struggling to recruit the effects will be felt by other industries that rely on logistics to operate effectively.”

A number of logistics companies are introducing new initiatives to improve their staff recruitment. For example, Hermes has introduced the Road to Logistics programme to train more drivers.

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