Skills gap in logistics sector may have caused Christmas delays

Delays in the run up to Christmas may have been caused by a skills shortage among temporary workers in the logistics sector

Delays in the run up to Christmas may have been caused by a skills shortage among temporary workers in the logistics sector, a logistics company has said.

Walker Logistics said that its previous experience of Christmas and Easter is that the “calibre of people that temporary staff agencies are able to provide drops dramatically, and this can put a strain on order picking and fulfilment processes”.

“Many companies operating in the logistics industry rely on short-term additions to their permanent staff to ensure that spikes in their clients’ output are met,” William Walker, Sales Director of Walker Logistics, told Supply Management.

“At busy times, agencies can still provide numbers of workers but their quality is significantly diluted. Indeed, some of the people they supply are so lacking in even the most basic skill sets that they can cause more problems than they solve.”

Walker Logistics has increased its permanent warehouse workforce and started planning staffing needs earlier in the year.

“It is absolutely vital that logistics companies plan their temporary skills needs well in advance of peak periods if they are to stand any chance of getting reliable people who show up for work on time and are capable of doing the work they’re needed to do,” Walker said.

Logistic firms should not make bottom line cost their sole focus, he recommended. “Many third-party logistics services companies still prefer the perceived savings of a lower hourly rate and find themselves with employees who are chronically late, poorly trained or who simply don’t show up. As a result, their workplace becomes a revolving door of workers and, ultimately, their clients suffer.”

John Randall, Engagement Director for accreditation organisation Standards in Recruitment, added: “Providing suitable agency workers is at the heart of regulations that govern temp worker supply, but sadly, not all agencies are able to meet that requirement or are realistic about being able to deliver upon hirer expectation, as indeed highlighted by Walker Logistics.”

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