A skills shortage among temporary workers in the logistics sector could cause delays in the run-up to Christmas, a logistics company has warned.
Walker Logistics said its previous experience of Christmas and Easter is that the “calibre of people that temporary staff agencies are able to provide drops dramatically and this can put a strain on order picking and fulfilment processes”.
“Many companies operating in the logistics industry rely on short-term additions to their permanent staff to ensure that spikes in their clients’ output are met,” said William Walker, sales director of Walker Logistics.
“At busy times, agencies can still provide numbers of workers but their quality is significantly diluted. Indeed, some of the people they supply are so lacking in even the most basic skill sets that they can cause more problems than they solve.”
In response Walker Logistics has increased its permanent warehouse workforce and started planning staffing needs earlier.
“It is absolutely vital that logistics companies plan their temporary skills needs well in advance of peak periods if they are to stand any chance of getting reliable people who show up for work on time and are capable of doing the work they’re needed to do,” Walker said.
In addition, logistics firms should not make bottom line cost their sole focus, he said. “Walker Logistics’ policy is to hire fewer people at a slightly higher rate but with the guarantee they will be high-quality workers who perform efficiently and effectively,” he added.
“But many third party logistics services companies still prefer the perceived savings of a lower hourly rate and find themselves with employees who are chronically late, poorly trained or who simply don’t show up. As a result, their workplace becomes a revolving door of workers and, ultimately, their clients suffer.”
Adrian Marlowe, chairman of the Association of Recruitment Consultancies, said: “Walker Logistics clearly understand about planning ahead for the festive rush, but it is really important that it chooses the right agencies to work with to meet demand.
“All temp agencies are required by regulation to check that supplied workers are suitable, but in times of high demand the temp resource can be spread thin, and the temptation to hire in less than fully suitable workers more strong.”
John Randall, engagement director for accreditation organisation Standards in Recruitment, said: “Providing suitable agency workers is at the heart of regulations that govern temp worker supply, but sadly not all agencies are able to meet that requirement or are realistic about being able to deliver upon hirer expectation, as indeed highlighted by Walker Logistics.”