The Budding Logistics Sector - Career Opportunities and Skill Sets
Much of the recruitment and job prospects in the logistics industry depend upon how macro-economic situation changes in India
Logistics is a new industry, with a promising future. In India, the Logistics industry is still in its nascent stage with a lot of challenges and bottlenecks. Over the last few years, there has been an increased focus on logistics as the sector has seen an influx of good investments, better regulatory practices, mega infrastructure projects and several other initiatives. As the economy is maturing, the logistics sector is also set to become more sophisticated. The skill gap is high and for professionals, there are interesting challenges and growth opportunities.
e-Commerce push to the Logistic Sector
Traditional logistics has in last few years has already witnessed an inwards technology pattern in India with the inception of MNCs. This is further enriched by the evolution of e-commerce market in terms of technology, operations, processes and delivery. As things in the e-commerce are heading for a real time concurrence, expectations from logistics and supply chains are increasing for being precise and accurate in their operations, delivery and service quality.
The boom in e-commerce has opened up new avenues and newer kind of challenges in the logistics sector. The success of e-commerce also seems to depend on effective IT support, transportation and better logistics infrastructure. The e-retail boom will also lead to development of relevant payment model and a new warehousing model. This calls for more efficiency and accuracy, which demands the infrastructure and skill development to be high. E-commerce has helped in gaining public attention to the logistics and supply chain industry, so from HR perspectives it is good to attract the best talent available and subsequently offer them an exciting career option.
Various roles offered by Logistics Sector
Jobs in the logistics sector range from the positions of a fresher, say in the role of a Trainee to senior positions in various functions like Sales, Marketing, Operations, Customer Service and Support functions like Finance, HR and IT. These jobs require specific skill sets as per functional requirements which are standardized by the logistics industry. For example, a person in operations should have the knowledge of air/ocean export/import procedure and trade documentation. Similarly a person for sales and marketing should have selling skills with knowledge of logistics market as well as part of operation/documentation and international trade. The IT, HR and Finance are more towards functional competency of candidate than on industry knowledge, however industry knowledge adds to the advantage many a times.
The key competencies required for these roles are not very different from other roles. Over and above functional competencies, at Schenker India, the focus is on basic behavioral competencies like Customer and Service orientation, Business Acumen, Communication, Relationship Management, and Flexibility. To succeed in most roles, one should have strong Analytical and Problem solving skills. As far as qualification is concerned, it plays an important role at the entry level. One of the ways to join this sector would be to experience it as intern while pursuing some course in Supply chain and Logistics. At Schenker India, we hire freshers from B-schools for building talent pipeline, while experienced professionals are hired for mid and senior level positions for new positions or backfills as the case may be. Many of our interns end up as employees by their own choice.
Demand Supply Gap in Hiring Talent
Due to new trends in supply chain and logistics fields, companies are looking for professionals with new and advanced skills in their fields. At the moment, the industry is at a more matured stage in supply chain solutions in terms of IT, infrastructure or operations than a decade back. There is still a demand-supply gap at the level of junior, middle and senior level. Reason being these jobs gradually call for advanced skills set as per the customers’ increased expectations from a service provider. At an operational level as well, while we try to improve our processes, we need to train them to work on new systems and technology, but there are a handful of service providers who practice this. A larger picture still remains the same and that is where this gap comes into existence.
Women in Logistics Sector
Logistics industry is considered male-dominated as the legacy work force has been male. It suffers from poor perceptions of career opportunities – may be because it's hard to escape the impression that roles primarily involve moving and lifting in cargo complexes or warehouses. My experience over the last 4 years in this sector is that as most of the roles in logistics industry at middle and senior management level are of knowledge workers’, so the success rate should be 50:50, i.e. equal, irrespective of gender. Having said that, we do not see many women in senior leadership roles, which mean there are other factors like social, industry unattractiveness, legacy factor etc. and nothing to do with competencies and performance.
In terms of the role offering, I would categorically state there is no demarcation as to which role is meant for men or women. However, in Indian logistics industry, we see that women professionals are mostly in key account management, customer service and support functions, while a few women are in warehouse operations and Field Sales. There is a need to focus on engaging women in Logistics industry in India.
Job Prospects and Hiring Scenario
Much of the recruitment and job prospects in the logistics industry depend upon how macro-economic situation changes in India. We are certainly more advanced in terms of skills requirement or trained personnel in our industry. However, inflow of new jobs will depend upon many other factors. With fast improving investment climate and MNCs bringing expertise in logistics area, we hope to improve on expertise, skills and new job generations.
In the recent years, most of the hiring done was replacement hiring while a few were on new job roles. Still the job market is not quite bullish as was expected. Although demand for skilled logistics professionals has grown during the past years, the employment was lesser than the growth rate, notwithstanding the industry trends. This is because of a guarded approach towards new hiring by the industry. This may sound paradoxical, but due to new trends in supply chain optimization, transparency, safety, integrated logistics solutions, logistics clusters, network optimization etc, there has been a demand for logistic professionals with new skills. We expect the industry will continue to pick up throughout the year 2015.
However as a general supply chain perspective the growth in employment of the industry is going to manifold across all levels i.e. from delivery boys at the front to the supervisors and general and product line management level with the growth of Ecommerce industry.
Exponential growth of the logistics sector
According to the Market Research Reports, Inc.
- 3PL logistics market in India is expected to be worth US$ 301.89 billion by 2020. Indian logistics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.17% by 2020 driven by the growth in the manufacturing, retail, FMCG and e-commerce sectors.
- Freight transport market in India is expected to be worth US$ 307.70 billion by 2020. Indian freight transport market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.35% by 2020.
- Cold Storage Market in India 2015 – 2020 is expected to be worth US$ 8.57 billion by 2020. Indian cold storage market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.09% by 2020 driven by the growth in the organized retail, Indian fast food market, food processing industry and e-commerce sectors.
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