Logistical Labor Shortage

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By Philipp Schitter 

From clicking and collecting to tapping and ordering – consumer patterns have changed dramatically from days of purchases strictly from brick-and-mortar stores. With this shift, importance of logistics has gone up a notch with demands of the supply chain now including aspects such as same-day deliveries and efficient returns.Despite its increasing importance, the logistics sector is facing a major challenge of labour shortage. With an increased demand due to the strides made by e-commerce sales, there should be more perceived opportunities for jobs and vacancies within the logistics sector – why then is there an ongoing labour shortage?

The Labour Shortage

According to a report by Gi Group Holding, 75% of warehouse operators in developed countries are having trouble attracting employees. In turn, this causes these businesses to operate below capacity, decreasing efficiency and revenue.One reason for the lack of manpower stems from the sector having a reputation of physically demanding and strenuous jobs, which play a role in affecting potential workers in their foray into the industry. Another reason is linked to the change in cultural and social shifts within countries. For example, fewer workers have licences nowadays for the trucks and vans traditionally used in delivery fulfilment. Elsewhere, the current generation of workers in the logistics sector are aging and reaching retirement age – without an influx of young workers taking over. Reports indicate that 45 per cent of employees in transportation and warehousing are aged 45 and older, significantly higher than the 37 per cent seen in younger industries such as trade. With that, there is constant constraint on fulfilling the increasing demands of the supply chain due to this lack of labour.

Attracting Talent for the Future

By emphasising the potential for career development and the integration of cutting-edge technologies, logistics companies can attract and retain Gen Z employees, who are going to make up 27 per cent of the workforce by 2025. 
To attract and retain Gen Z employees in the logistics industry, it is essential to develop strategies that align with their work ethic and preferences.One key strategy is to emphasise the role of technology and automation in the industry. By showcasing the innovative technologies used in logistics, such as Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) systems, companies can appeal to Gen Z’s affinity for digital solutions and create a sense of excitement and purpose.Additionally, providing opportunities for continuous learning and growth is crucial for engaging Gen Z employees. This generation values personal development and seeks out employers who offer training programs and career advancement opportunities. By implementing mentorship programs, cross-training initiatives, and ongoing skill development programs, logistics companies can cater to Gen Z’s desire for growth and progression.

The Impact of Automation on the Logistics Industry

For businesses who have adopted automation, it has had a profound impact on revolutionising the way operations are conducted. In addition to attracting Gen Z talent, automation has helped businesses cope with the rise of e-commerce and the increasing demand for speedy order fulfilment.Companies have turned to automation to stay competitive, with ASRS technology being one such strategy. With the system, businesses can significantly reduce order processing time, improve inventory management, and enhance overall operational efficiency while aligning with what a Gen Z worker wants from a workplace.AutoStore is one such provider, with their warehouse robots providing businesses with 99.7 per cent operational uptime and 100 per cent access to stock, while consuming only 100 Watts of energy during operation.One notable success story in aligning Gen Z affinity with automation within the logistics industry is Grocery Logistics of Singapore. By integrating AutoStore technology into their warehouses, GLS was able to meet the demands of fast-paced order fulfilment. The compact and flexible nature of AutoStore systems allowed GLS to maximise their warehouse space and improve operational efficiency, quadrupling order fulfilment at 220 orders per hour.This integration not only increased productivity but also created an environment that resonated with the work ethic and preferences of Gen Z employees.


Despite the labour crunch faced by the logistics sector, more than 80 per cent of warehouses today have no automation whatsoever, making the sector further unappealing to the incoming Gen Z workforce.Automation not only helps the current generation of workers lighten the strenuous aspects of logistical tasks but will also help in attracting the future of its workforce. Bridging the gap between Gen Z work ethic and logistics industry demands is crucial for the continued success and growth of the sector. By understanding the characteristics of Gen Z, leveraging technology and automation, and implementing strategies that align with their values, logistics companies can attract and retain the next generation of talent.Embracing innovation and showcasing the opportunities for growth within the industry will not only meet the demands of Gen Z but also ensure a thriving and dynamic logistics sector for years to come.

About the author: Philipp Schitter is the VP Business Development APAC, AutoStore. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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