As the supply chain industry grows in size and complexity the need for labor simultaneously grows. This paired with the shift to retirement age in the Baby Boomer generation has caused a rift in qualified labor availability. In the recently released 19th Annual Third-Party Logistics Study 50% of surveyed executives are encountering this problem. Finding and retaining qualified labor has become a struggle for many supply chain management businesses. To address this challenge many 3PLs, warehouse and distribution centers, manufacturers and retailers are taking steps towards developing and attracting new talent.

Supply chain executives have begun to implement supply chain community engagement programs where community members of all ages can participate in trade shows, summer camps, ambassador programs and local competitions. In 2014 there was a nationwide Manufacturing Day where 1600 events were held, drawing 250,000 attendees. These types of programs help to educate people about the industry and address any misconceptions, making these open positions more desirable.

Partnering with local schools in the form of STEM programs have also shown positive results. These programs equip students with the knowledge, skills and understanding that SCM businesses search for in qualified candidates. While this does not solve the immediate labor shortage it helps to ensure a consistent flow of candidates in the coming decade.

Working with third party recruiters and university intern programs have also helped to bring in new qualified talent into the labor pool. 68% of surveyed CEOs thought that recruiting using third parties was providing the best results in comparison to 63% for internships. Both provide qualified talent to mitigate the existing shortages.

Supply chain businesses are also beginning to invest in internal training and development programs in hopes of increasing employee retention rates. 94% of surveyed executives believe these programs improve the state of the talent gap as well. These internal programs should be all encompassing including both formal and informal training, knowledge sharing, apprenticeship, performance support and coaching. All of these key areas will provide supply chain businesses with qualified team members.

3PLs and other industry groups are also raising labor budgets to allow for much needed wage increases. These increases will not only help to retain current skilled labor positions, but attract new talent to open skilled and executive level positions.

Investing in technology such as automated storage and retrieval systems, mobile computers, voice technology, WMS, 3D printing and more is also attracting new, fresh GenX tech-savvy talent. It is shown that SCM businesses with higher levels of automation have more success filling open positions with interested GenX employees.

Lastly, implementing labor management technology has also helped to mitigate the labor shortage issues.

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