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Market update March 2014


Logistics employers want top talent

This has been the busiest start to a year that I can remember from a logistics and distribution recruitment perspective. The emphasis employers now place on having talented and skilled professionals in key logistics roles is as strong as it has ever been. The market for senior level appointments has been particularly strong during the first three months of this year.
There is increasing recognition by employers that recruiting the best people for these roles can lead to significant productivity gains in terms of cost and efficiency.
In addition, customers and end users in every sector are demanding higher levels of service around delivery and logistics. An example is the online fulfilment channel and the expectations customers now have in terms of when they can expect a delivery and the service levels that they will receive from the delivery provider. This means that companies in every sector need to have higher calibre logistics professionals in key roles or they face being left behind by competitors and potentially losing customers.

Fastest growing sectors

The changes in how customers shop and order products are significantly impacting how retailers organise their distribution networks. These changes are particularly pronounced in two areas. The first is around the continuing growth of multi-channel fulfilment. How retailers service their customers from a physical distribution perspective around the differing channels is a critical area of discussion among retailers.
The second is around the continuing growth in customers preferring to shop in smaller convenience stores and away from larger stores. This trend places differing demands on retailers’ distribution networks. Both of these trends have the potential to increase the ‘cost to serve’ and also increase the complexity of a typical retail distribution network. Therefore, having skilled and talented logistics professionals within key roles is more important than ever to retailers.
The automotive manufacturing market continues to be a strong employer in the UK and is experiencing good levels of growth. This growth coupled with the demands from the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) around delivery performance from suppliers is leading to increased demand from logistics professionals in this sector.

Employee attraction and retention

The need to attract graduates into the logistics industry to cater for the increasing number of positions in the sector and the increasing complexity of the jobs themselves has become a hot topic recently. Another important discussion taking place in the logistics sector is the importance of having effective managers with good people engagement skills to increase both employee retention and employee productivity. Employers are placing strong emphasis on identifying and assessing these competencies in potential recruits.

Sought after logistics professionals

Operations managers with exceptional people management and leadership skills are particularly sought after at the moment. Project management skills are in high demand, particularly within the retail sector. This is to manage the ongoing changes due to the structural changes outlined above. Because of the fixed-term nature of these projects, there has been growth in the demand for interim professionals to manage these projects on a short-term basis. Transport management has been an area of skills shortage for a number of years and this shows no signs of changing.

Top tips for logistics employers in the current market

  • Engage with candidates during the recruitment process and actively promote your organisation and the opportunity during the interview process. Good candidates may well have a number of competing offers. Why should they come and work for you? 
  •  Structure the interview process well. Candidates are looking for a well managed, timely and structured interview process that does not drag out over a long period. Having an extended recruitment process increases the chance that candidates will disengage from the opportunity, lose interest or receive another offer. Recruitment in the current market is a two-way street!
  • Partner with specialist logistics recruitment providers who have proven experience in the logistics sector. Michael Page Logistics has an extensive network of candidates, understands the sector and can provide advice and guidance around your requirements.

The next year...

Due to the factors I have outlined above, I foresee that the market for logistics professionals is likely to continue to remain strong for at least the next 12-18 months.
To see how we can help you recruit skilled and talented professionals, contact Ben Lyons, operating director at Michael Page Logistics.