Loyal readers of Logistics Management (LM) are well aware that we’re fond of traditions. As always, our September issue kicks off the fall by sharing the results of the “Annual Study of Logistics and Transportation Trends.”
In fact, 2022 marks the 31st year that the LM editorial and research teams have worked with Karl Manrodt, Ph.D., of Georgia College on this survey that has become recognized across the industry as the ultimate report card on overall logistics operations performance. Manrodt is joined once again by Christopher Boone, Ph.D., of Mississippi State University to put context around the findings.
Through this survey, Boone and Manrodt reveal the percentage of freight dollars being spent by mode and identify shifts in transportation spending. Over the past few years, we’ve re-directed some of the questioning to place more focus on the key factors driving digital transformation in logistics management, including the need for more technology to improve visibility and overall performance.
Also this year, the team decided to add a section focused on how logistics and supply chain management professionals view the current labor environment—what some believe has entered crisis mode.
“We learned that transportation spending reflected the dynamics created by market forces over the last two years,” says Manrodt. “Spending for both TL and LTL increased, as did spending for private fleets as shippers looked to reduce costs and ensure capacity. While this wasn’t surprising, some of the data we gathered on talent was.”
For example, only 23.7% of respondents said that their organization has the talent needed to meet current requirements and challenges, while 74% expected it to be “difficult” or “extremely difficult” to fill needs in the year ahead.
According to Boone, this will become more challenging as we see increased investment in robotics and automation designed to help mitigate labor shortages. “Technology alone will not resolve the supply chain talent issues,” he says. “In fact, technology is a double-edged sword. New skillsets will be needed as more technologies are integrated, making it even more critical to find the right talent.”
A data point that took me by surprise: only 6.75% of respondents “strongly agree” that adopting new technologies will reduce the dependence on employee talent, while 22.7% “strongly agree” that adopting new technologies will help to attract and recruit new talent. An organization that is more tech-forward may bring talent in the door, but can the organization retain talent?
In a new element to the survey this year, the research team asked logistics and supply chain professionals to share a question that they would like to see included in the survey. “The predominate suggestion was around the perceptions of logistics-related careers,” says Boone. “It appeared that many suspected that negative perceptions of the industry would be a barrier to attracting top talent.”
For the first time, respondents were asked to consider a series of job factors and then share their perception of how logistics and transportation jobs compared to jobs in other industries for each of those factors.
“These results suggest that logistics and transportation jobs do offer advantages over jobs in other industries that can be used to attract and retain talent,” says Boone. “However, when asked, only 19% of survey respondents indicated they would encourage their child to pursue a career in logistics—a clear indication that the industry must confront internal negative perceptions and work to enhance the appeal of logistics and supply chain related careers.”