The shortage of digital talent is a massive challenge for the logistics industry, potentially bigger than the lack of drivers according to the UK head of one of the world’s largest transportation technology platforms.
Nick Ghia, General Manager UK at C.H. Robinson, which supports some 119,000 market sector customers and transport carriers globally through its multi-modal logistics platform, Navisphere and which recently announced an alliance with Microsoft Corp. to digitally transform supply chains of the future, says: “Digital talent is, and will be, more than ever an asset for logistics companies and customers that are looking to differentiate. But there aren’t enough of them coming through and there are not enough of them currently working in the profession.
He adds: “There’s a massive marketing and branding job to do and the industry has to get to digitally young people a lot earlier in their education to promote the new technology-led logistics landscape. We’ve got to get away from an image of logistics being just about trucks and warehousing.
“Everyone talks about a driver shortage but arguably the biggest issue is around developing a digital workforce which will be critical to driving forward the logistics industry in the future. Recent research indeed reveals the scale of the issue with nearly a quarter of logistics firms stating that it was problematic to recruit technological talent.”
Ghia is calling for the industry to be much more relevant and impactful to attract the next generation of logisticians. He says: “If we don’t, we risk losing them to other industries. We need to make logistics exciting and dynamic, positioning the huge role that the supply chain has in growing economies, supporting societies and enhancing the environment. We need to be promoting the new hi-tech logistics and everything that goes with it – artificial intelligence, the internet of things, robots, automation and predictive analytics.”
Ghia also feels that aspirational brands that appeal to young people have a key role to play in telling their logistics stories.
He adds: “Business leaders in aspirational organisations have a crucial ambassadorial role in championing the critical part that hi-tech logistics has to play in the future of their operations.
Ghia also feels that the industry needs to start influencing digital savvy young people from a much earlier age. Ghia comments: “Universities are adapting their programme content to reflect the digitisation of the supply chain but many students with a passion for digital technology are not aware of what logistics has to offer in this area by the time they make their choices for college or University education.”
“We need to change this, for example by looking at the gamification of logistics in order to introduce school children to the concept of logistics in a fun way, where they can also learn analytical and problem-solving skills.”
Last year C.H. Robinson set up Robinson Labs, a unique incubator which has been developed to create, test and scale up the next big ideas which will provide supply chain-led commercial advantage to its customer-base which include household global brands, some of the biggest names in industry and manufacturing, as well as leading names in road transport, air cargo, shipping and rail freight provision.
The European centre for the its Labs will be based in Warsaw, Poland and will bring together the company’s logistics experts, innovators, data scientists and engineers. Its work will focus on big data and digital technologies including artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics.