How logistics companies are redefining what it means to work in a global supply chain
Posted On July 28, 2021
The logistics industry is rapidly growing, and it’s growing fast.
But for some, the changing roles of logistics workers is prompting them to question whether they are still the right fit for the jobs they are filling.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the U.K. has nearly 40,000 logistics jobs and China about 11,500, but they’re just a fraction of the overall supply chain that the country’s 2.3 billion people need.
Many of the new jobs, particularly those that involve managing supply chains, are in the high-end, while some of the lower-paying jobs are in retail, health care, education and even transportation.
To understand the changing dynamics, The Washington Post spoke with a variety of experts who have spent years learning the logistics job, and their answers reveal a complicated history and changing roles for logistics workers in the U, U.N. and elsewhere.
“The logistics industry has always been a high-tech one,” said Paul E. Giammarino, the U-M professor of management and economics who teaches a class on logistics.
“It has a high concentration of the educated, the affluent and the highly educated.”
In the last two decades, he said, the industry has become more diverse, with fewer people with a background in agriculture and manufacturing, which has created more demand for high-skilled and technical people.
“If you’re looking at a typical U.A.E. household, the percentage of the population who is in manufacturing has grown from 15 percent to 35 percent over the past two decades,” he said.
“I think the biggest driver of change in logistics is the increase in the number of students and the increase of the high school dropout rate,” Giammari said.
“The demand for skilled, highly educated people is greater than ever.
So the demand for people who can provide those skills and competencies is growing exponentially.”
A new world of work for logistics jobsThe new supply chain can also be confusing.
For instance, if a logistics worker wants to go to a country with low salaries, and the worker has an education degree, he or she needs to take a test to pass.
The process is expensive and not always seamless, and in many cases is complicated.
If you want to work for a major company that has been through a supply chain overhaul, you have to pass the test.
If that’s not possible, there is little the logistics worker can do except try to find a job where the pay is higher and the job involves higher responsibilities, like managing logistics or shipping goods.
And for many workers, the logistics jobs are a last resort.
“It’s not necessarily the end of the world if they want to go back to a job that’s a bit more manual, or they don’t want to do a lot of paperwork,” said Scott A. Brown, a labor economist at Northwestern University.
“But I think they’re more likely to leave because they have more control of their own career,” Brown said.
To some, these jobs are more of a challenge than others.
“Some people just don’t like working in a place where you’re constantly being told how to behave, and if you’re not doing that, it’s really difficult to navigate,” said Dan Fossella, an associate professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Minnesota.
For logistics workers, being paid well can be a tough balancing act.
A new survey from the UAW, the American Automobile Workers Union and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters showed that the majority of logistics employees in the United States and China are making $30,000 to $35,000 annually.
That means the average worker makes less than $20,000 a year, according to a recent survey by the Association of American Railroads, which represents freight and logistics workers.
The survey showed that about a third of logistics professionals in the industry earned less than that.
The jobs aren’t all bad.
Many of the jobs are high-paying and the pay for them is high, said David Pomerantz, an economist at the Brookings Institution.
But they also often require more manual tasks.
“There are people who have no problem managing the logistics, but when you have a lot more people, the challenge becomes, how do you keep track of all the different departments?
That’s where the complexity really becomes apparent,” he told The Washington Time.”
You need to have someone who’s a really good worker and who can get you out of the box, so to speak,” Pomeranz said.
For some, it is not the right time to go into logistics.
They want to focus on other industries, like health care or manufacturing.
“People don’t realize how hard it is,” said Giamma, the former logistics worker.
“When you’re dealing with this type of stuff, you’re going to have to put in a lot, especially if you don’t