Five trends that are shaping today’s logistics industry

Five trends that are shaping today's logistics industry
If you look up ‘logistics’ in the dictionary, the official definition is: the commercial activity of transporting goods to customers. It makes it sound very straightforward. Move something from A to B, and hey presto – everyone’s happy.

Of course, those of us who are engaged in the industry know it’s far more complex than that. Furthermore, the industry is developing and evolving more and more every day, with countless social, economic and political trends driving it forwards. Let’s take a look at five of the trends that are shaping and influencing the logistics industry of today – and tomorrow.

1. Industry entry barriers

One of the greatest barriers to driver recruitment is the financial cost of acquiring a licence, according to research from the FTA. If you’ve never worked a lorry driver, you could expect to spend around £5,000 on training costs, before you even spend one minute on the road professionally. That’s a huge amount of money to ask anyone to spend upfront; and it’s potentially even more unreachable for individuals who have been unemployed for some time. It’s clear that more needs to be done to increase the availability of funding support and secure the support of the insurance industry, so more people have the means to enter the industry.

2. Brexit

Last summer’s Brexit vote has left many companies concerned at the potential impact it may have on future labour availability. According to the ONS, 15% workers in the transport and communications industry are non-UK nationals. Of this, 8% of workers are from the EU. When the status quo unexpectedly alters, it’s time to move onto Plan B, and understand how this could affect hiring plans. In short, logistics companies will need to adapt, so they can keep their businesses running smoothly with one hand, while preparing for a different and uncertain future with the other.

3. Gender imbalance

Latest ONS statistics found that there are currently 1,558,000 individuals employed in the transport and storage industry. Of this, 1,243,000 were male – that’s just shy of 80% of the industry. What can employers do to bridge this divide and support more females into their organisation? Better facilities at truck stops and warehouses? More flexibility over shifts? This is something employers need to consider, as a matter of priority. After all, as skills shortages continue to worsen, gender parity isn’t just the right thing to do – it makes clear business sense.

4. Ageing workforce

In a previous blog, I wrote about the ageing logistics workforce, and how this is driving talent shortages throughout the industry. According to the FTA, the picture has improved – but only very marginally. With the average age of drivers dropping from 48 years old to 47.9 years old, there’s still a lot that needs to be done to attract more young people into the industry. At the same time, this ageing workforce also presents another challenge for employers: when drivers reach retirement age, how can the industry retain their skills? Offering flexible working opportunities and seasonal contracts can help to attract these workers back into the industry, so organisations can retain their skills and alleviate skills shortages.

5. Technology

For better or worse, advancements in technology are impacting all industries in one way or another. Where logistics is concerned, technology has the potential to completely overhaul the entire sector. We’ve all heard the developments of Google and Uber, where driverless cars are concerned. However, new technologies can be expensive and require people with specialist skills, so employers are still hesitant to say hello automation, goodbye workers. Only time will tell how much of an impact this will have on the workforce as a whole.

These are five of the more prominent factors that are shaping the logistics industry of 2017, but there are countless more. In the years to come, some of these trends may stop being quite so influential; whilst others are bound to emerge at pace.

Consequently, business success relies on staying one step ahead of these trends. Employers need to keep one eye on the horizon and anticipate what changes are coming their way, so they can adapt their approach to recruitment accordingly.

Manpower can help you with that. We know the world of work never stands still, so we invest in market-leading research which helps companies get the most out of their workforce. In fact, our insights are so valuable that the Bank of England, EU Commission and UK Government use them as a key economic indicator, too.

If you’d like to discuss how these trends are impacting your business today and in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on [email protected].

To find out more about our expertise in warehouse and logistics recruitment and workforce planning, visit or email us at [email protected]