Logistics companies are struggling with the shortage of warehouse workers and people in specialized professions. Employers value not only process and project specialists, but also the managers of shifts and warehouses.

Photo: Aktualne.cz

There are desperately few people in the labor market who could fill the vacant positions in logistics. According to Zdeněk Kašpar, who works as Associate Director – Industrial & Logistics at CBRE, companies are going through the worst period since the crisis in 2008 and 2009. “There are a lot of orders on the market and clients in terms of the volume of goods are growing, so the lack of people for logistics companies is crucial,” he said. Both manual professions and specialists are lacking. Logistics specialist has also ranked among the seven professions that will be doing well in 2017 thanks to their lack of numbers according to the Jobs.cz portal.

Warehouse workers are coming from abroad

The lack of warehouse workers is felt even more when the pre-Christmas peak season starts in September. And the warehouse profession itself has changed. Companies do not merely expect them to handle goods and drive forklift trucks but have other skills as well such as packing goods, working with scanners and using computer technology.

As Zdeněk Kašpar claims, employers compensate for the lack of warehouse workers mainly by employing temporary workers, who have the advantage of being more flexible, allowing companies to better respond to seasonality in logistics and can even cover the pre-Christmas peak. Due to the low unemployment rate in the Czech Republic, the agencies are increasingly turning abroad. The staff that the agency tries to attract for companies mainly comes from Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania. “Due to the lack of warehouse workers, labor costs for warehouses have increased by 20% in the last two years,” added Zdeněk Kašpar.

Specialists knowledgeable in logistics are missing

However, according to him, the biggest shortage is for process and project specialists and shift leaders and warehouse managers. These are professions that require a combination of specialized skills along with a good knowledge of logistics. “Companies are looking for a solution that specialists seek to educate themselves and set up working conditions to retain them,” he explained. This means adequate financial compensation and the role of corporate culture or the possibilities of further education and personal development.

In logistics, as in other industries, senior sales representatives like Key Account Managers are also missing. And the other under-staffed professions are specialists for individual products in logistics like air and sea transport. People who are in professions in short supply increasingly have a competitive advantage.

Yet, even in logistics there are professions that are relatively easy to fill. As an example, Zdeněk Kašpar mentions office professionals or top managers. “While you have two CVs for the position of warehouse manager in thirty days, you have thirty CVs on the table in two days when looking for a senior manager,” he added.

Education and automation

It is clear that the field will continue to grow, so there is no short-term solution to the shortage of specialized professions, according to Zdeněk Kašpar. According to him, one way could be by extending specialized education and a greater participation of logistics companies in the educational process. As an example, he indicates Germany or Austria, where companies are already taking older high school students into practical training. “This is lacking here, so I think there is a gap between what people learn at school and what companies need,” he said.

In his opinion, the lack of warehouse workers will be solved in the future by partial automation. “The price of technology is falling and the lack of people creates more pressure for automation,” he concluded.

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