Skills shortage underestimated

The Transport and Logistics Skills Council’s "Environmental Scan No. 1" reports that the current skills shortage in the industry is more dire than predicted, and is about to get much worse.

According to the report, closer examination of current intelligence and statistics reveals that existing data sources seriously underestimate the size of the transport and logistics industry, the number of people employed in it, and the extent of training required to maintain an effective transport and logistics infrastructure, both for the Australian economy and for the community more broadly.

Conventional statistics indicate that there are 468,200 persons employed in the transport and storage industry. Of these, 84,000 are truck drivers and 21,800 are storepersons. When examining data across all sectors, 160,600 truck drivers are employed (i.e. nearly twice as many as reported for transport and storage) and 209,000 storepersons (i.e 10 times as many as reported for transport and storage).

There is a combined total of 121,500 storepersons employed in the retail and wholesale industries. This alone highlights the central role of warehousing and distribution within other industries.

Similar patterns exist for many other occupations in the transport and logistics industry sectors; for example, maritime, bus/coach occupations in tourism, storepersons in engineering, rail occupations in civil infrastructure, marine and aviation occupations in emergency services, and forklift operators in almost all industries.

Similarly, educational statistics that report commencements, enrolments and completions in full national qualifications are a significant underestimate of the education and training effort. These statistics do not capture training activity in:

• Short courses conducted to fulfil licensing requirements but not aligned to full national qualifications;

• Courses involving a set of units of competency required to meet an industry need, but which are less than a full qualification;

• Courses conducted within industry, by private training providers or by government agencies i.e. defence;

• Licenses and certificates issued by regulatory authorities.

In short, the official statistics for employment and training should be regarded, at best, as only a partial estimate. Present methods for the collection of data relating to the combined training effort across the industry have the potential to provide a significantly skewed and unreliable picture of labour and training requirements.

Unmet training demand across the various sectors (taking into account industry growth, an ageing workforce, new technologies and systems, and structural change) is estimated to be as high as 50,000 commencements per year (dependent on how unmet demand is measured).

The full report can be downloaded here.


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