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Material Handling Talent Trends for 2018

Feb. 3, 2018
Here are seven talent trends that will help to shape the material handling and logistics workforce this year.

By Cherie Shepard

What’s in store for 2018 when it comes to talent within the material handling and logistics industry? Here are seven talent trends that will help to shape the workforce this year:

1) Adoption of People Analytics. As more Millennials move into management roles, they’re turning to “people analytics” to better understand the effectiveness of people practices, programs, and processes. By creating employee dashboards like Microsoft’s MyAnalytics, managers expect workers to measure how much of their employees’ time is being spent on meetings, projects, and daily tasks. It’s also a way to measure progress toward organizational goals. Ultimately, people analytics is meant to help managers and executives make decisions about their workforce.

2) Candidate-Driven Job Market Continues. For most industries across the US, we’re expecting the candidate-driven job market to continue and the material handling and logistics industry is no exception. For job seekers, this is great news. It means they have the power to be very selective regarding job opportunities and employers. For employers, this means hiring managers need to reevaluate talent acquisition strategies as well as cut the lag time before hiring. Top performers are often off the market within 10 days.

3) Industry Growth Means More Jobs. The material handling and logistics industry is expected to have high growth potential in 2018. One reason is the rapid rise in the e-commerce industry, primarily online shopping. This has resulted in the expectation of shorter product delivery times which in turn, is increasing the pressure to build even smarter material handling equipment. Whether for storage and retrieval systems, conveyor systems, picking and sorting, new equipment and systems must be safe, energy-efficient, and reliable while delivering solutions at a reduced cost and shorter lead-time. Companies will be on the lookout for professionals in the areas of research and development, engineering, hardware, software, and coding.

4) Working Remotely Takes Off. Working from anywhere and at any time will become a normal everyday thing. In fact, by 2020 it is expected that 40% of US workers will be working from home or another remote location. Having virtual employees is not only a way to get things done round the clock, but it is also a way to find skill sets from every corner of the globe.

5) Women Gaining Ground. While still a male-dominated industry, material handling is experiencing a women’s movement. Companies are hiring more women to fill roles at every level including the executive level. In fact, MHEDA and MHI joined forces in 2017 to launch a Women in Industry Conference to provide women with learning and growth opportunities as well as help them network with fellow material handling professionals. MHEDA is planning a second Women in Industry Conference in 2018. There’s no question that women will help to close the talent gap as well as bring new perspectives and solutions to the industry.

6) Social Media Continues to Play Role in Recruiting. A recent survey by SHRM shows that the use of social media for talent acquisition is growing with 84% of organizations using it currently and 9% planning to use it. Furthermore, recruiting passive job candidates, which accounts for 82% of recruits, continues to be the top reason that organizations use social media for recruitment. Social media has been effective when recruiting for non-management employees, management employees, and executive level employees. LinkedIn remains the most popular social media platform for recruiting.

7) Robots Killing Some Jobs, Creating Others. A recent report produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers states that nearly 40% of U.S. jobs will be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence (AI) by the early 2030s. With so many jobs disappearing, many futurists and economists are considering the possibility of a jobless future. The reality is that it’s not all gloom and doom. While it’s true that some people will see their jobs become obsolete, there will be opportunities for workers to acquire new skills in order to obtain other well-paying jobs. Robots in the workforce will not merely take jobs away, but also create them. The hottest jobs in robotics right now are robotics engineers, software developers, technicians, sales engineers and operators.

Cherie Shepard is the director of material handling, packaging & food processing for Direct Recruiters Inc., a relationship-focused search firm that assists organizations with recruiting, acquiring and retaining high-impact talent for mission-critical positions.

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