Logistics industry suffers skills dearth

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 06 Aug 2013

The logistics industry in SA has been one of the hardest hit by persistent IT skills shortages.

This is according to local logistics software developer, Dovetail, which notes that, while the demand for services is growing, there is not enough focus on developing and training people.

In a recent interview with ITWeb, Martie Bothma, operational manager at Dovetail, revealed that training budget constraints, a lack of skills and mediocre education levels in SA - especially in maths and science subjects - are partly responsible for the dearth.

"It is becoming increasingly challenging to manage the IT skills shortage in the logistics industry. Innovation, therefore, is being stifled," she noted, adding that the education system focuses on inappropriate skills.

In the face of the crisis, Bothma pointed out that more and more logistics companies are creating logistics academies to grow the talent pool and address the skills gap in the market. To bridge the gap, she urges the industry to implement in-house training programmes, career path planning and succession planning with mentoring.

She believes that employing graduates in intern positions via a formal training programme can make a difference. "Start training academies with in-house skilled resources and make candidates available to the marketplace. Also, support formal institutions with training initiatives," said Bothma.

Outsourcing a temporary fix

Outsourcing is a possibility, she says, but not a solution. "The service providers might sit with the same problem. Without strict service level agreements and processes in place, the delivery of the service might be challenging.

"Outsourcing will be considered if there is a cost-saving benefit or if it improves service levels. It will also allow your business to focus on core activities within the business," she explained.

She pointed out that outsourcing can create temporary relief for periodic or specific assignments, adding that it allows organisations to focus on core applications of skilled resources.

However, she believes that, by outsourcing, organisations can lose management control of important business functions, and it can be costly if terms and conditions are not properly negotiated.