Logistics Labor Shortage

A wide spread labor shortage has started to affect all areas of the supply chain.  A variety of factors contribute to this including a workforce educated more for white collar positions, the negative stigma attached to blue collar work, and even tighter restrictions on immigration all contributes to more open positions than there are people to fill them. Automation was expected to replace many jobs, but the amount of blue collar jobs has been on the rise since 2009.⁵ Automation takes time and resources many companies are unwilling to invest, so many positions remain open to be filled. Additionally, as many workers approach retirement, there aren’t enough younger workers stepping in to fill these roles. Some companies are working to maintain their current workforce while others are spending time and resources into the upcoming generation of workers, hoping to get them to fill vacancies. A high turnover rate due to inefficient training and skill sets exacerbates the problem. 

The question becomes how to attract new workers to blue collar positions without the stigma of having failed to achieve. Chuck Hammel, CEO of Pitt Ohio Group, says, ” We’re going into the high schools and getting seniors that choose not to go to college, young men and women, and putting them in a three year program.”¹ This gives those who choose not to go to college a training program and the skills they need to be successful in various positions in logistics. As is true with many blue collar professions, the public at large takes for granted the significant role this industry plays in their lives. The sooner potential employees are recruited and educated about the supply chain and its effect on economic development, perhaps the sooner the labor shortage closes.

As the supply chain becomes more complex and as the logistics field grows and changes with consumer demand, companies are seeking to invest educational programs into current and prospective employees. A World Bank report found that there are “‘too few well trained executives in the logistics center,'” and a lack of qualified staff at the operational level.² This issue is made worse because too few new recruits are entering the field who can be taught from the very beginning of their careers. Many companies have now taken on the task of creating training and certificate programs for existing and incoming employees.  The newly created Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) focuses on creating specialized training programs for every part of the supply chain. These specialized programs can help retain employment as well as create interest in the field. ³

To help curb the effect of labor shortages, companies are offering more incentives including higher wages, training programs, and flexible schedules – especially to working parents. Truck driver pay rose approximately 10% in 2017.⁶ Some believe higher wages will attract more workers, possibly at the cost of company profits.


¹Cassidy, William B. “The Quest for New Drivers.” The Journal of Commerce, vol. 20, no. 1, 7 Jan. 2019, pp. 96–97.

²Morely, Hugh. “World Bank Sounds Alarm on Logistics Worker Shortage.” World Bank Sounds Alarm on Logistics Worker Shortage | JOC.com, 8 Sept. 2017, www.joc.com/international-logistics/logistics-providers/world-bank-sound….

³ Chapman, Tamara. “Continuing Education: What’s on the Menu?” Inbound Logistics, Dec. 2018, pp. 48–51.

⁴ ⁵ ⁶ Miller, Rich. “Blue Collar Worker Shortage Turn U.S. Labor Market on It’s Head.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 2018, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-13/blue-collar-worker-shortage-t….