Written by Dr Matthew Leach
Dictionaries are unable to agree on a set definition, but fundamentally logistics is considered a branch of engineering that creates ‘people systems’ – contrasting with true engineering, which creates ‘machine systems’ – that efficiently manages the means by which resources are obtained, stored, transported and distributed. The term was borne out of a military context that specifically referred to supplies and equipment, but has since been adopted by business to denote the means by which acquisition, storage and movement of materials along supply chains is carried out.
Stephen Hammond, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, has described the logistics industry as “the backbone of businesses up and down our country”, and for very good reason. Without logistics there would be no raw materials from which to manufacture goods, no means of storage to preserve perishable produce, no supply to meet public demand.

Why does logistics often have problems recruiting good quality candidates?

The difficulties that face those attempting to recruit good quality candidates into the logistics sector centre around the poor light in which the general public views logistics. It is seen as an unexciting career path that pays poorly and offers little with regard to career progression. The logistics sector is also suffering from ossification due to an ageing workforce, and desperately needs to draw young, fresh talent. This is a process that has been identified as lacking due to the majority of enterprises within the sector being SMEs unable to put the necessary procedures in place, but programs are now being implemented that attempt to promote logistics to youths. However, despite initiatives such as ‘Made in China‘ – an enterprise activity that gives school children an introduction to the sector – the recruitment needs of logistics are pressing and require an urgent recruitment drive.

Ex-military men are the solution

The Armed Forces are world leaders in logistics, with the capability of transporting personnel and equipment vast distances, at short notice, to the most remote regions in the world. Ex-military personnel tend to have large amounts of varied logistical experience that make them suitable for a number of logistics roles, including truck driving, procurement of equipment and the management of technical store warehouses. Considering that over 20,000 servicemen leave the Armed Forces each year, this demographic provides logistics recruiters with candidates actively seeking work who are ready-trained for a career in the logistics industry. Even if they have not received the relevant training, Hammond asserts that “[t]he military have exactly the sort of transferable skills that can drive this crucial sector forward.”
Logistics is an essential part of business infrastructure, and while public perception may view it as having “poor image, poor pay and poor prospects” the latter two of these criticisms couldn’t be further from the truth of the matter. Worth around £75bn to the British economy, logistics offers massively diverse and lucrative prospects. According to Reed, the average salary for logistical roles is a substantial £27,724 annually, while careers in rail, air and shipping logistics can promise annual salaries of over £30,000 for those that have the skills and the capacity for man management.

How to find roles in logistics

There are a number of resources available for finding logistics roles, such as traditional all-round recruitment agencies. Specialist logistics recruitment agencies exist across the country that focus on roles of this nature, meaning these recruiters can offer insight that stems from experience and insider industry knowledge.
Skills for Logistics and The Logistics Guild have both launched the Military Work Placement Scheme, which offers 1,000 former Armed Forces staff two-week placements with civilian logistics companies, and the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) recently held the largest online military recruitment event in the UK, drawing around 5,000 ex-servicemen.

This article was produced on behalf of Parcel2Go.com Ireland a specialised low-cost courier company operating from within the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, shipping to the rest of Europe and further afield.