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Singapore, being an important logistics hub in the global trade, is eyed by major logistics and supply chain industries as one of the best location in APAC for state of the art warehouses. Want proof?

Not long ago, SDV proudly launched their energy-efficient and sustainable facility, which is the first ever warehousing structure to be Green Mark Platinum certified.

Last year, Kuehne + Nagel announced that a five-level state-of-the-art facility, having 55 loading bays, a cold storage zone, automated and robotized technology will be built and hopefully finished by the end of the year.

DB Schenker Logistics invested 41 million euros into a new integrated logistics facility. Comprising of a shared warehouse for customers for various industries such as Healthcare, Electronics and Automotive. The facility, located at the Tampines LogisPark, has a gross floor area of approximately 54,520 square meters over three floors.

DHL Supply Chain will build a S$160 million integrated logistics warehouse facility in Singapore, allowing the logistics giant to better serve clients in multiple sectors. With a warehouse floor area of over 90,000 square metres, it is set to increase the company’s warehouse capacity in Singapore by 40 percent

Toll Logistics also announced plans of building a $228-million complex which, if completed by the year 2017, would be one of the largest and most hi-tech facilities in the country.

…and the list goes on…

More than Enough Jobs, Not Enough People

With all the good news of warehouses being built, it is only right to expect that there will be more jobs available in Singapore. From senior-level positions down to the humble but equally important forklift drivers, the need for people to man the facilities is more than crucial.

But why are there positions left unfilled for months and even years? Right now, it seems like the vacancies are square-shaped holes and the people willing to fill it are rounded pegs. Digging deeper, we will see that there are a few key challenges spurted by the growth…

Challenge 1: Not enough people to keep the boxes moving

Unfortunately, at a ground operations level, most of these facilities are facing a deep shortage of attracting and also maintaining talent. With people easily migrating from one company to the other, companies are facing very high attrition levels.

And to take a specific example, there is a huge shortage of the primary key position for things to keep moving: DRIVERS! Right now Wall Street Journal reports that land-logistics organisations in Southeast Asia are looking for 140,000 drivers. Of course, Singapore accounts for a fraction of the number, however that would still be a significant number compared to the total workforce available.

Challenge 2: Finding specialised skills

A critical skill set highly demanded on the market are Solution Design experts. Currently there is an ongoing shortage of analytical staff who can design warehousing or transportation solutions, especially those with knowledge of automation.

No matter how effective people are in a warehouse facility, if it is not designed to enhance and optimize efficiency and productivity, then it would be like trying to dig for gold using a spoon and fork. The skills of a solutions sesign professional are essential in turning a warehouse from a high-quality facility to a highly-effective logistics hub that will contribute to the success of its company.

Healthcare Logistics skills are also quickly getting in huge demand. Singapore has established strong fundamentals in healthcare excellence, having established the world’s 4th best healthcare infrastructure (World Competitiveness Yearbook 2010, IMD) while spending less than 4% of GDP on healthcare and providing universal coverage for Singaporeans with multiple layers of care.

However for the logistics field, and especially cold chain development, which is vital for all the research and clinical trial work that has massively developed in Singapore, the talent lack is wide. Whilst the state of the art warehouses have top end cold chain rooms, there is a definite pressure to find the skills and experience necessary to design and manage them.

So where can companies find the talent?

For specialised and expert roles, mid to senior level, an option is to expand the search far and beyond Singapore. Our team at Morgan Philips has conducted a few searches where the talent pool has been mapped across South East Asia and even Europe and US.

For operational level, a potential solution is also for companies to make sure they are retaining their talent in the first place by internal policies. As well as to be ready to invest and train the right skillset for the long run.

Would you agree or disagree? And what other solutions do you think can be applied?


Radu Palamariu, Director, Asia Pacific at Morgan Philips Executive Search

Morgan Philips Executive Search – Supply Chain, Logistics & Procurement

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