Finding and retaining talent in UK warehousing

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Facing a labour shortage, UK warehousing is innovating to attract and retain talent.

18 June 20247 min mins

The UK warehousing and logistics sector is in the grip of a labour shortage. This is nothing new. Employers have expressed concerns over the shortage of drivers, engineers, pickers and packers for a number of years, and it’s a shortage exacerbated by Brexit.

Despite the best efforts of the UK Warehousing Association, the UK government hasn’t added warehouse workers to the UK’s shortage occupation list (SOL) (which would open-up visa opportunities to some of the skills we need.)

The lack of graduates entering this sector is also disappointing, and pitiful, in comparison to our European neighbours.

With online retail set to increase by 7% annually, reaching 28.4% by 2027, it’s critical that talent pipelines and attractive working conditions are in place.

As AI is adopted by operators, jobs are becoming more sophisticated too. Alongside project managers and warehouse pickers, the sector needs data analysts and robotics engineers.

So how do we find talent in the UK? And how do we keep it? The UK warehousing sector has been creative, open-minded and driven in its mission to develop its future workforce.

Here is one pioneering initiative which is being delivered at Iron Mountain’s Magna Park Campus which is attracting talent:

Creating Tomorrow Partnership: Young people with additional needs struggle to gain employment in the UK due to a lack of opportunities. Creating Tomorrow at Iron Mountain College – developed by teachers from SEN schools who were concerned by the absence of support for learners at this stage – works with Iron Mountain to deliver a two-year programme/internship for students ages 18+ with additional needs. Creating Tomorrow at Iron Mountain College – which includes modern classroom space and job carving techniques that adapt roles to individual abilities – is staffed with job coaches to support learners as they develop skills for the warehouse sector.

Iron Mountain’s Magna Park Campus is set to invite 12 new students on site in September 2024.

“In five years, Creating Tomorrow at Iron Mountain aims to have learners securing sustainable paid work, either within Iron Mountain or elsewhere, thanks to their enriched experience, training, and learning opportunities.

“We anticipate replicating this model in other sites, with the national employment statistics for people with learning differences increasing from 4.8%. Moreover, we envision a shift towards a more positive culture, recruitment process, and attitude towards learning differences, fostering greater accessibility and encouragement for individuals entering the workforce,” says Stacey Morris, Community & Employer Engagement Business Partner, Creating Tomorrow Partnership.

The Creating Tomorrow students at the Magna Park Campus – alongside Iron Mountain staff – enjoy bright open-plan offices, a modern dining area and social activities including table tennis. It also offers quiet spaces, trendy décor and a Starbucks. This space is inviting and welcoming, aims to retain staff and welcome new ones.

As Gen Alpha enters the workforce in four years-time, Iron Mountain’s Rugby and Magna Park Campuses are ready to welcome them with workspaces which reflect modern values and beliefs, inclusive of neurodiverse and LGBTQ+ entrants.

Generation Logistics and Tempus Novo

Here are two useful initiatives it’s also worth knowing about and getting involved in.

Generation Logistics: This initiative aims to find and engage the next generation of logistics talent. It works alongside logistics employers to highlight the huge opportunities on offer, from entry-level pathways through to graduate programmes. It also aims to change the perception of careers in logistics through its various campaigns. Backed by the Department for Transport, it targets 13 to 24-year-olds through social media and resources for educators. The Generation Logistics team also have a committed set of ambassadors visiting schools to promote logistics as a valuable career.

Tempus Novo ROTL: Tempus Novo works with serving prisoners in Category D prisons (low risk) who attend work in UK warehouses and then return to prison after their shift has finished. Extensive multi-agency risk assessments are completed before a serving prisoner can be granted ROTL (release on temporary license) and given permission to attend work. It then uses its assessment process to determine whether a candidate is ‘work ready’.

A caseworker is assigned to each prisoner and is supported as a suitable position is found. This caseworker will then continue to support both prisoner and employer for a 12-month period. Tempus Novo also has a Community Model, where ex-offenders are referred to Tempus Novo by probation officers and other stakeholders: DWP /Prisons/ Hostels/Police.

Employee wellbeing and staff retention

Team members are eligible for benefits such as free private medical insurance, Resources for Living helpline, a pension plan, shopping cashback benefits,discounted Gym membership, and more.

“On our Rugby & Magna Park Campuses we are always holding team activities, so everyone knows each other, regardless of the department you are in. We celebrate occasions with cakes, pizza and sweet treats, which always generate lots of lively chats amongst colleagues. We also organise an employee of the month programme and charity events alongside Creating Tomorrow College,” says Maria Torrent-March, Warehousing & Logistics Strategy Director, Iron Mountain.

Iron Mountain's investment in people, communities, employee welfare, training and modern net zero buildings, has created a motivated and inclusive workforce. It’s an attractive option to the staff that it needs to deliver flexible 3PL services for its clients.

As eCommerce booms, having a flexible, loyal and happy workforce at the heart of your 3PL partner, offers the security you need to retain contracts and accept new ones. Employers can no longer rely on pre-Brexit labour, they need to build a talent pipeline by investing in local communities.

Outsourcing warehousing services to Iron Mountain guarantees that there’s an inclusive happy workforce behind your fulfilment, one which meets your own sustainability and social responsibility goals.

To learn about Iron Mountain’s Warehousing as a Service (WaaS) visit…