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  • Writer's pictureMichael Williams

Navigating The Talent Shortage In Logistics & Supply Chain: A Guide For Senior Leaders

The logistics industry is booming, driven by e-commerce growth and a globalised marketplace. However, a critical talent shortage threatens to stall this progress.


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A recent study by Descartes Systems Group found that more than a third of logistics leaders characterise this resource shortage as either high or extreme. This lack of qualified candidates, particularly those with both experience and digital skills, is creating a bottleneck for businesses, causing delays and hindering crucial initiatives.



The High Cost of a Talent Gap in Logistics


The consequences of the talent shortage are far-reaching. Delayed projects can lead to missed opportunities, frustrated customers, and ultimately, lost revenue. Here's a closer look at the impact:


  • Stalled Growth: Without the right people to execute new strategies and manage complex operations, businesses struggle to scale and capitalise on growth opportunities and strategies.


  • Operational Bottlenecks: Vacancies in key positions create bottlenecks, leading to inefficiencies, delays in processing and shipments, and further disruptions throughout the supply chain.


  • Declining Customer Satisfaction: Delays and disruptions translate to a negative customer experience. Modern businesses that compromise on customer satisfaction will not survive.


  • Erosion of Innovation: The talent shortage stifles innovation. Logistics companies need skilled professionals to develop and implement new technologies, automate processes, and drive continuous improvement.



Why is There a Talent Shortage in Logistics?


Several factors are at play:


  • Shifting Industry Landscape: The rapid digital transformation of logistics demands a new breed of worker with expertise in areas like data analysis, automation, and AI. Traditional logistics skills like warehouse management and transportation coordination are no longer enough on their own.


  • Talent Gap: Many experienced professionals lack the digital skills needed to navigate the evolving landscape. On the other hand, younger workers might have the digital skills but haven't yet gained the practical experience in the industry. This creates a significant skills gap.


  • Traditional Recruiting Methods: Relying on traditional methods like job boards, traditional recruiters, and online listings are unlikely to reach the niche talent pool with this specific hybrid skillset. Recruiters also lack the industry understanding to identify the perfect fit, leading to a mismatch between candidate qualifications and actual needs.


  • Pace of Change: Rapid technological advancements make it difficult for companies to keep their current workforce upskilled. The constant need for talent that can hit the ground running with both experience and digital fluency further exacerbates the shortage.



The Traditional Approach: Waiting Game or Missed Opportunity?


The traditional approach of waiting months to recruit permanent hires and/or compromising on the quality of candidates has been proven to be detrimental. In 2023, over 70% of projects failed globally. This is without counting where projects stalled, competitors gained an edge, and digital transformation initiatives fell behind.


Consider this scenario: Your company identifies a need to implement a new warehouse management system (WMS) to improve efficiency and visibility. However, due to the talent shortage, finding a qualified candidate to lead the implementation can take months. In the meantime, your existing team lacks the expertise to move forward, and the project remains on hold. By the time you finally fill the position, valuable time has been lost, and your competitors might have already implemented similar solutions, giving them a significant advantage.



The Solution: Interim & Temporary Talent as a Bridge to Success


Businesses need to break the cycle of traditional recruitment and embrace a more strategic approach. Interim or temporary talent offers a powerful solution:


  • Rapid Deployment: Expert talent is available quickly, often within a matter of days with the right partner. This allows you to address immediate needs and keep projects moving forward without delay.


  • Expertise & Digital Skills: These professionals bring both experience and digital fluency to the table. They can tackle crucial tasks without needing extensive onboarding or training, ensuring a smooth transition and immediate impact.


  • Knowledge Transfer: These experts can share their knowledge and best practices with your existing team, fostering long-term benefits that go beyond just completing specific tasks.


  • Flexibility: A temporary talent approach provides the flexibility to scale your workforce up or down as needed. This ensures optimal resource allocation for changing priorities, allowing you to respond quickly to market fluctuations, project needs, or seasonal demands. Using flexible work patterns is a value-for-money solution that doesn’t compromise on expertise.



Interim & Temporary Talent: Not a Replacement, But a Catalyst


Interim & Temporary talent isn't meant to replace permanent hires. Rather, it’s another key weapon in your arsenal.  It acts as a bridge, allowing you to:


  • Maintain Progress: Keep projects moving forward while the search for a permanent hire continues. This helps you avoid costly delays and ensures you stay on track with your strategic objectives.


  • Buy Time for a Perfect Fit: The time saved by deploying temporary talent allows for a more thorough search to identify the ideal candidate for a long-term role. You can conduct a comprehensive skills assessment, evaluate cultural fit, and ensure you find someone who aligns perfectly with your company's needs and vision. No quick, compromises on new hires.


  • Maintain Service Levels: Even with vacancies, temporary talent helps you maintain optimal service levels for clients. This protects your reputation and market share during the recruitment process.


  • Upskill Your Existing Workforce: While interim & temporary talent provides immediate expertise, you can leverage their presence to upskill your existing team. By working alongside experienced professionals, your employees can gain valuable knowledge and develop the digital skills they need to thrive in the long term.



Taking Action: Move Forward Today


The talent shortage in logistics is a real challenge, but there's a way forward. Here are 3 steps you can take to address it today:


1). Look Outside Traditional Recruitment: Explore options like change agents, project experts, and independent talent networks. These specialists have access to a wider pool of talent, particularly those with niche skillsets like digital logistics expertise. Look for partners who offer rapid deployment, industry expertise, and flexible engagement models tailored to your specific needs.


2.) Utilise Temporary & Interim Talent: Bridge the gap with expert temporary talent who possess both experience and digital skills. This allows you to keep projects on track, avoid delays, and maintain a competitive edge.


3.) Seek a partner who can provide industry-specific subject matter support:

Independent partners with specialised subject matter expertise can help you by directing, overseeing and supporting you with challenges and objectives. Unlike recruiters, these specialists have deep logistics industry knowledge, practical industry experience, know-how, and working knowledge of talent that goes far beyond a CV, enabling high performance and achievement.

 


The Road Ahead: Building a Resilient Workforce


The logistics industry is on a fast track, and the demand for skilled talent will only continue to grow. By embracing interim & temporary talent solutions and adopting a more strategic approach to talent acquisition, businesses can overcome the current shortage and build a more resilient and productive workforce for the future.


Here are some additional benefits of using temporary & interim talent that weren't covered above:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Interim & temporary talent can be a more cost-effective solution compared to traditional recruitment methods. You only pay for the expertise you need, for the duration you need it. There are no additional costs associated with recruitment, onboarding, or benefits.


  • Reduced Risk: Hiring permanent employees involves a certain degree of risk. Interim & temporary talent allows you to assess a candidate's skills and fit without committing to a long-term placement.


  • Improved Team Morale: Filling critical gaps with temporary & interim talent alleviates pressure on your existing team, boosting morale and productivity.



Don't Let the Talent Shortage Stall Your Progress


The talent shortage in logistics is a complex challenge, but it doesn't have to be a roadblock to success. In fact, it provides an opportunity to look at things differently. The digital era calls for new modern solutions.


By leveraging temporary & interim talent solutions, you can gain access to the expertise you need, when you need it. This allows you to keep projects moving forward, maintain service levels, and achieve your strategic objectives.


If you're a senior leader in the logistics industry struggling to find expert talent with both experience and digital skills, it's time to explore alternative solutions.


Contact Eight Eights today to learn how our temporary talent solutions can help your business bridge the talent gap and achieve operational excellence.


Blog written by Mike Williams.


Mike Williams is an Executive Leader, Strategist, and Hands-on Delivery specialist, who works closely with business leaders across sectors on navigating major change, reducing costs, and increasing income. He is also the co-founder of Eight Eights. For over 35 years, he's helped businesses, from start-ups to established players, overcome growth challenges including Digital Transformations, Mergers & Acquisitions, and efficient scaling strategies. His deep logistics and supply chain expertise is proven by major change initiatives with companies such as TNT, FedEx, Hermes, and EVRI.

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