Aim younger to recruit the 1.2m people needed to drive the logistics industry

Birmingham, UK, Tuesday, 1st May 2018 – Logistics firms and their education advisors are now targeting students as young as 14 in an attempt to create more interest in the profession, as fears intensify of a gaping staff shortfall in the future.

Ian Nichol, Head of Logistics at Career Ready, said that the industry is expected to need an additional 1.2m employees by 2022: “We have a ready-made training programme, but we need the industry to channel its knowledge and enthusiasm, because at the moment very few actually understand what the logistics industry is.”

Speaking at Multimodal 2018 at Birmingham’s NEC this morning, he added: “Too many people think that it’s about driving trucks and working in sheds, and there are a lot of parents who don’t want their kids to go into that profession.”

Andy Kaye, Chief Executive Officer of executive recruitment consultant Bis Henderson Group, added: “We have an ageing population and we don’t have the skills to take this industry into the future.

“25-33% of employees are nearing retirement age while at the same time the logistics industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy. The way we manage our lives now with e-commerce means that logistics and supply chains support the growth of the wider economy.

“But how do we get people to understand that? This sector has done very, very little to attract new talent into the industry.”

In response, Kaye launched the NOVUS programme, an industry-led grouping that has organised a series of logistics degree courses in cooperation with Huddersfield University.

Bethany Fovargue, Operations Manager at NOVUS, is also a former primary school teacher who said that while many previous efforts had concentrated on potential graduates and school-leavers, the critical age group for employers to attract potential recruits was now in the 14-year-old age range.

But she also added the industry suffered from a wide-ranging problem that people outside it simply did not understand what its function was.

“We know that young people want to study business – what we need to do now is to take their concept of what business is and turn it into supply chain management, and we want to do that at a younger age than previously so that children develop a burning desire to become logisticians.”

Kaye explained that the NOVUS initiative now boasts two logistics degree courses and is funded by some 25 companies that pay GBP5,000 per year membership, which goes towards funding students’ tuition fees.

Each of those companies, which are manufacturers and retailers as well as logistics service providers, also provide mentors and work experience options. Every student that graduates is guaranteed a position of employment.

Since 2013 some 200 graduates have passed through the programme.

Over the last year or so, the UK government’s apprenticeship Trailblazer scheme was expected to address some of these issues, but Jim French, PD Port’s Portcentric Logistics Director, told delegates that less than 10% of the funds paid in by the freight industry had been drawn out to fund new apprentices.

“In the last 12 months since the levy was introduced, the logistics sector contributed GBP83m but has drawn out just GBP4.8m.

“The problem is that the industry is so fragmented that a lot of smaller companies aren’t paying the levy at all, while many of those who are, are not drawing any of the money out.”


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Logistics firms and their education advisors are now targeting children as young as 14 in an attempt to create more interest in the profession, as fears intensify of a gaping staff shortfall in the future.

That is what delegates heard attending the “Attracting Talent” panel on day one of Multimodal 2018, part of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) sessions at the free-to-attend show at the Birmingham NEC.


About Multimodal 2018

Multimodal is the UK and Ireland’s leading freight transport and logistics exhibition, which also features a series of topical seminars and master classes, and hosts a Shippers’ Village, giving freight buyers a private space to meet logistics suppliers.

The supply chain show, in its 11th year, is free-to-attend and Multimodal 2018 is currently taking place at the Birmingham NEC from 1st – 3rd May 2018.

Multimodal 2017 was the biggest in the show’s history, with over 345 exhibitors and a record-breaking attendance of 9,449 supply chain executives.

The FTA Multimodal Awards Night took place at the VOX at Resorts World at the NEC on 1st May 2018, and welcomed over 800 guests.

The Awards recognise excellence in air, road, rail, maritime, and freight forwarding services and are voted for by the thousands of readers of the Multimodal newsletter, as well as FTA members, and exhibitors at Multimodal.

For more information visit