As online shoppers demand faster and less expensive shipping, it’s created a warehouse boom in several parts of the country. Companies are investing in high-tech facilities and state-of-the-art warehouse equipment to provide an elite level of customer service.
Unfortunately, there’s a downside to this seeming success story. While the number of warehouses grows, it’s become increasingly hard for employers to find enough qualified people to staff them.
The Shrinking Labor Force in Warehousing and Logistics
The problem is readily apparent in the Midwest, where many companies are locating their distribution centers to be close to a larger segment of the public. One example is Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble, which recently opened a mile-long facility not far from Dayton International Airport.
According to P&G’s Jeff LeRoy, the entire warehouse is digital, allowing them to get product to the customer in less than 48 hours. But LeRoy adds that the influx of warehouses is making competition for employees tougher, with the biggest demand coming for jobs that robots are still unable to do.
How to Beat the Competition for Qualified Workers
In order to attract qualified applicants, P&G is offering a starting wage of $15 per hour, which is more than $5 higher than the area standard for low-skilled warehouse jobs. LeRoy says that as automation becomes more integrated in supply chain and logistics, future workers will require a different set of skills.
Mark Cohen of Columbia Business School says that communities need to support programs to develop these new skill sets. Ohio Governor John Kasich is also urging companies to better align training programs.
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