Situated in the Midland’s Golden Logistics Triangle – where 90% of the UK population can be reached within a four-hour drive – Northamptonshire is inevitably a hotbed for industrial and logistics recruitment.
According to recent Office For National Statistics figures, West Northamptonshire leads the way in UK warehousing, with the highest Reed number of business premises (3,200) occupied by transport and storage.
North Northamptonshire follows closely behind with 2,700. Over the last 10 years, both regions have seen a rise in the percentage of premises being used for logistics, and they are both now in the top 10 in the UK by that measure.
However, while this is creating an abundance of new opportunities for workers in the local area, there are also clearly a number of challenges it presents, including a highly competitive seasonal war for talent.
The battle for talent
Northamptonshire’s highly-concentrated demand for logistics talent predictably creates competition for labour, particularly in the run up to Christmas each year – a peak traffic period for organisations in sectors such as manufacturing, logistics, distribution, FMCG, retail and eCommerce.
Research has revealed that warehouses and logistics firms in Northampton are suffering from a serious skills shortage, with continually rising vacancies for warehouse operative roles. In fact, Northampton reported the fourth highest number of vacancies – 146 – on a single day, outside of the traditional peak period.
Additionally, worker retention is also a critical issue, with Reed’s 2023 Salary Guides Survey revealing that the majority of UK logistics workers are either actively seeking (23%) or readily considering (31%) new job opportunities. This is something even some of the largest employers are grappling with.
Additionally, with many premises located in out-of-town industrial business parks, with limited transport links – especially for night shift workers – there are further transport challenges to consider in getting workers to the warehouse.
The reasons behind the logistics sector’s talent shortages are varied, but the lack of readily available talent is inevitably having an impact on business performance, including organisations’ ability to grow and onboard new clients, as well as fulfil existing customer orders.
When it comes to attracting new talent to the sector to tackle skills shortages, there’s a need to change long-standing warehouse workplace perceptions. For a long time, industrial opportunities have been overlooked by candidates in the temporary market, due to a number of perceptions, including low employer value proposition, the work being hard and labour intensive and warehouse facilities being poor. However, in reality, the transport and logistics sector is advancing rapidly – offering new opportunities in automation and robotics, for example, which enhances efficiency and reduces demand pressures on workers.
To compete, and successfully attract talent and retain skilled workers in Northamptonshire’s logistics melting pot, organisations need to stand out and offer employment packages that today’s employees truly value.
Rising worker expectations
Reed’s 2023 Salary Guides Survey revealed that financial incentives and flexible working are the two most important benefits for transport and logistics workers.
Among the most popular benefits were annual salary increments (45%), a four-day working week (33%), flexi-time (30%) and performance bonuses (28%). However, the reality of all of these benefits lags behind expectations, with just 17% receiving annual salary increments, 11% a four-day working week, 14% flexi-time and 16% performance bonuses.
Of those transport and logistics workers actively searching for or considering new job opportunities, 18% felt ‘it was time to move on’, while just under half cited financial and benefits packages being misaligned with expectations as the primary driver (15% insufficient pay, 15% better pay available elsewhere, 14% benefits/salary not good enough, 5% benefits not good enough).
As a result, there’s a clear need for logistics companies to review the financial and benefits packages they’re offering and assess whether these are meeting both existing and prospective employee needs in today’s market.
At Reed, we have extensive experience managing high-volume warehouse contracts across the Northamptonshire region, deploying workers to some of the largest business parks in the area. We also have a range of local recruitment experts across Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and throughout the UK, to help you find the talent you need to fulfil peak demand with ease.