Ten per cent of Irish road haulage fleet parked up on day of Shannon Chamber Logistics Webinar due to lack of drivers

The stark reality of the lack of awareness about the opportunities that exist in the logistics and supply chain sectors was made apparent during a recent Shannon Chamber webinar when Chamber vice president Eoin Gavin, owner of Co Clare based road haulage company Eoin Gavin Transport stated that, following a call around on that day, he found that ten per cent of the Irish fleet was parked up due to a lack of drivers.

“The onus is on all of us to improve the perception of the sector, and to promote the many roles that the sector offers as viable career options,” to told webinar attendees.

The webinar was hosted in association with the Departments of Transport and Enterprise Trade and Employment and Munster Technological University to outline the skills gaps and the opportunities available in the logistics and supply chain sectors, both critical contributors to Ireland’s economy.

Presenters at the event, which was supported by Regional Skills Mid-West, included Dr Alan Power from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Claire Martinez from the Department of Transport and Dr Jane M O’Keeffe from the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI), a constituent college of Munster Technological University (MTU), all members and contributors to the Government’s Logistics and Supply Chain Skills Group.

This group was set up to identify the skills and competency requirements for logistics and supply chain activities and to propose recommendations to ensure that Ireland is equipped with the right skills base in the years ahead, given that an estimated 3,000 new entrants to freight transport, distribution, and logistics roles will be required annually up to 2025.

Research undertaken by the Logistics and Supply Chain Skills Group has found that the sector is not regarded as a first choice career or employment option; it has a low profile resulting in scant knowledge of how the sector operates and the roles and opportunities available; it suffers from an ageing workforce and; there is a failure within the sector to develop talent from within, with many working in the sector unwilling, or unable to progress from lower skilled positions resulting in a high turnover of staff.

As explained by all presenters, plans are now underway to deliver a careers’ promotion campaign to enhance the awareness and attractiveness of the sector, to close the skills gap and to improve alignment between curriculum and industry needs. This will be attained through reaching out directly to educational organisations and involving career guidance practitioners.

“There are so many aspects to the sector,” said Munster Technological University’s Dr Jane O’Keefe.

“The entire supply chain of producing and getting a product to market involves upstream and downstream activities, , and the job roles linked to this process are manifold involving buyers, expeditors, planners, warehouse operatives, logistics specialists, materials handlers, production planners, customer services agents, planners and analysts.

“There are endless possibilities and career development opportunities in the sector and our collective job is to make these opportunities known so that people will be attracted to work in the sector. Presenting to Shannon Chamber is a very important part of this process,” she added.

Commenting on this new collaboration with the Logistics and Supply Chain Skills Group, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said: “Our economy depends on the movement of goods into and out of this island. The onus is on us, as a key stakeholder in this region, to ensure that the sector attracts the skills that are needed to keep the wheels of commerce moving. We simply must be able to fill the 3,000 plus jobs that will be coming on stream each year and to encourage people of all ages to avail of the benefits accruing to working in the sector and the opportunities that exist for career progression.”

Joe Leddin, manager, Mid-West Regional Skills Forum reiterated the point that the acute skills shortages in the sector, which accounts for 5% of the region’s employment and involves some 2,000 employers, needs to be addressed.

“Work is underway on addressing the shortage of drivers and HGV mechanics, through the established of a national HGV apprenticeship, and networking with the Education Training Boards and career guidance counsellors to promote career opportunities is ongoing. There are so many tangible things that can be done in the immediate future to promote the sector. Webinars such as that hosted by Shannon Chamber is tremendously beneficial to the overall sector awareness campaign,” he added.