What Were The Biggest Logistics Trends Of The 2010s?

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The last 10 years in transport and logistics have seen a lot of change – from the proliferation of self-driving vehicles, to the constant uncertainty of Brexit, and a drop in availability of talent leading to industry-wide talent shortages. Here are some of the biggest shifts that have occurred in the sector:

Digitalisation

Digitalisation has been the major trend of the last 10 years, causing a number of changes within the sector. As the nature of roles has changed, companies are increasingly looking to hire talent with technical experience. While past operations could be managed with an excel spreadsheet and whiteboard, technological advancement is making this impossible.

However, this risks leaving an older, more experienced generation behind. Ironically, this group is showing very little interest in the sector. Currently, only 8% of people aged between 11-20 years old consider logistics to be an attractive career option.

To combat this, and ensure that they thrive in the face of growing digitalisation, industry figures need to get in front of young audiences to talk about the benefits of working in logistics. Careers advice will need to be improved, and students should be given exposure to the industry at key decision making stages.

There will also need to be an increased focus on training and development. In our industry survey, logistics professionals suggested just 34% of professionals believe that they received enough training in their current role and just 41% stated they received sufficient training to do a good job.

AI

Closely tied in with increased digitalisation is the rise of AI and automation.  Artificial intelligence has already impacted the industry with innovations such as smart roads and autonomous vehicles. With research showing that there is a potential £1.3 trillion per year to be made from embracing AI – this is only set to continue.

The 2010’s saw the trend gather pace, with many large firms automating swathes of their workforce. For instance, at Ocado, the company has designed highly automated fulfilment centres. One such operation in Andover is set to process 3.5 million items, or around 65,000 orders a week. While this will undoubtedly have a huge effect on the talent landscape, whether it will completely extend out to SMEs remains to be seen.

Brexit

Finally, like almost all other sectors, Brexit has had an effect on logistics. The prevailing impact has been to introduce widespread uncertainty to the sector. As transport and logistics relies on large numbers of EU talent, companies could potentially be faced with a murkier picture when it comes to hiring. One group that could be particularly affected is drivers, with a report from the FTA stating that ‘59,000 HGV drivers alone are urgently needed to keep operations afloat.’

However, on the whole, organisations have been holding fire on making change to their talent strategies, as uncertainty has been so high. Despite this, one area where we have seen increased demand is for workers with customs experience. Our own data has shown a 183% rise since last year. This chimes with a recent statement from the TUC, who claimed that there will be a need for ‘up to 5,000 extra people to cope’ with Brexit-related challenges.

An Exciting Future

The 2010s have seen a huge amount of changes in logistics, and as technology gathers pace, the next 10 years are likely to see further industry-wide developments. While the list above covers many of the major shifts – there are plenty of other sea changes occurring in the industry.

With an increased focus on sustainability, which started the decade as a nice ‘add on’ for companies and finished it as essential to company ‘purpose’, the controversial rise of 5G – set to be implemented across sector by the end of the next decade – the future may not be clear – but it will definitely not be uneventful.

Logistics Voices
Author: Tom Nichols
Title: Director
Company: WR Logistics
Sector: Transport & Logistics Recruiters.

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