Of all the sectors we studied for the TAFE NSW Evolution of Skills report, none demonstrated the same requirement for leaps in skilling that we saw as being necessary in trasport and logistics.
The high level of human dependency in this sector (think delivery drivers, or warehouse pickers and packers) has already seen it become the subject of intense speculation (and investment) regarding the role of automation (think driverless cars and trucks, or automated warehouse environments such as those operated by China’s JD.com).
In Australia we are really only at the early stages of automation in transport and logistics, starting with driverless trains and some warehouse automation projects, such as those undertaken by the ecommerce retailer Catch Group (I suspect it this company’s investments in warehouse automation – and the lessons it has learned – was a strong factor in its acquisition by Wesfarmers).
But as automation takes hold, the sector faces a significant challenge in terms of ensuring it can develop the skills necessary to operate its new systems and processes. As Catch Group has learned, there is a big difference between managing a standard warehouse and an automated one, and hence a wide delta between the skills that managers posess today and those they will need in the future. Across the sector, roles are becoming more complex, and often require skills from different disciplines. Srong change management programs will be needed to transition workers into new delivery models and with skills acquisition.
It’s a big challenge, but one that must be met if organisations in this sector are to keep up with customer expectations. You can read the complete findings in the sector report, downloadable from the TAFE NSW website.