Logistics firms and their education advisors are now targeting students as young as 14 in an attempt to create more interest in the profession, as fears intensify of a gaping staff shortfall in the future.

Ian Nichol, Head of Logistics at Career Ready, said that the industry is expected to need an additional 1.2m employees by 2022: “We have a ready-made training programme, but we need the industry to channel its knowledge and enthusiasm, because at the moment very few actually understand what the logistics industry is.”

Speaking at Multimodal 2018 at Birmingham’s NEC this morning, he added: “Too many people think that it’s about driving trucks and working in sheds, and there are a lot of parents who don’t want their kids to go into that profession.”

Andy Kaye, Chief Executive Officer of executive recruitment consultant Bis Henderson Group, added: “We have an ageing population and we don’t have the skills to take this industry into the future.

“25-33% of employees are nearing retirement age while at the same time the logistics industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy. The way we manage our lives now with e-commerce means that logistics and supply chains support the growth of the wider economy.

“But how do we get people to understand that? This sector has done very, very little to attract new talent into the industry.”

In response, Kaye launched the NOVUS programme, an industry-led grouping that has organised a series of logistics degree courses in cooperation with Huddersfield University.