Addressing shortages in shipping

The global shipping sector has faced a number of challenges over the last few years.

Thankfully, the industry has responded well and taken proactive steps to address these challenges, but while the short-term concerns about increased demand over the festive period have been successfully overcome, it is time for the sector to consider how it will provide long-term solutions, to ensure it continues to grow and is able to meet demand.

The UK government has made things easier, both by recruiting workers from Europe on a part-time basis, and by accelerating the process of administering HGV driving tests, which were delayed due to lockdowns during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recruiting from outside the UK and bringing more talented workers from outside the industry into careers in the sector will be two of the most important ways we can generate sustainable growth for the UK arm of the global supply chain.

The supply chain labour shortages we have experienced over the last two years are not just a UK problem, but solutions at the global scale can be slow to implement and slower to generate results. It’s believed that pursuing solutions at a local level, and increasing the capacity of the UK logistics industry to account for the shortages elsewhere is the best way that we can contribute to an improvement in the supply chain around the world.

Strengthening the UK supply chain

The UK’s shipping industry faced key challenges in terms of capacity last year, and we hope that the government’s efforts will improve this. Attracting new workers to the sector is vital, but it’s just as important to ensure that they can attain the qualifications they need and can be quickly brought onboard. As an employer, it’s crucial to provide opportunities for employees to progress and climb the career ladder if you want to retain them, but this too may only be possible if they are able to undertake additional qualifications without being subjected to long waiting lists or delays.

Shipping and logistics is a historically male-dominated industry, so companies looking to address staff shortages might consider how they can appeal to more talented women to join their staff. Average salaries have risen dramatically in response to the shortage, which is certainly a factor to consider when recruiting, but there are other benefits you can offer to help make your offering attractive to new recruits.

This can include monitoring gender-based pay disparities within your business and working to overcome them, supporting a positive and inclusive work environment, and offering flexible working or childcare benefits that have been shown to appeal to female members of staff. Having women take a more proactive role or act as role models in the recruitment process can also help to tap into a talent pool that has been overlooked and not provided with sufficient opportunities in the past, while also helping to overcome capacity shortages throughout the industry.

Retaining talented staff

Employee benefits can be a great way to attract talent to your business, and this will ultimately be an important way to improve your capacity in and bolster the industry.

One of the biggest challenges faced by drivers in the logistics sector is the isolation of travelling long distances alone, and this is one of the major obstacles in retaining HGV drivers. Companies need to do their utmost to create a sense of community and stay in communication with drivers to combat the sense of loneliness that can set in. Businesses  that are able to foster a communal atmosphere have much greater success in retaining staff and in developing their careers.

Some businesses are able to offer drivers the chance to develop new skills – for example, installing machinery – while others might have a career ladder to enable drivers to progress through higher levels of responsibility. A final consideration is to simply reward employees for their loyalty with regular salary reviews.

Ultimately, success in addressing the long-term shortage of drivers will require comprehensive solutions, but employers can complement the structural efforts made by the government by stepping up their recruitment efforts and ensuring their offering is as strong as possible.

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