Chinese employers suffer as educators fail to deliver on logistics skills

A visit by a Chinese delegation of logistics and education officials reveals that the problems Chinese employers face in filling their logistics jobs are every bit as bad and probably even worse as those experienced by UK employers.

Thu, 25 Apr 2013
A visit by a Chinese delegation of logistics and education officials reveals that the problems Chinese employers face in filling their logistics jobs are every bit as bad and probably even worse as those experienced by UK employers.

On a visit to Unipart Logistics in Oxford, Haoxiang Ren, vice-president of the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, said that in China “the skills shortage is for every subject and every position in the sector”.

Ren explained there was a fundamental mismatch between the demands of employers and what the Chinese education system is turning out. “Demand is like a pyramid,” he said, with many more operative-type jobs at the bottom and relatively few jobs for managers.   

Despite this, he said that every around 400 universities in China year provided 100,000 graduates studying logistics as a major part of their degree, leading to a glut of prospective candidates looking to enter the sector at managerial level.

In contrast, only 90,000 graduates with a relevant qualification left 800 secondary vocational colleges (for 15-18-year-olds), an insufficient number to fill the far more numerous lower level roles. “It [the education system] doesn’t fit the nature of the industry demand,” said Ren.

The problem is made worse, “because more and more parents are looking for their children to go to university and not college”, he added.   

Paul Brooks, sales director for Unipart Logistics, which employs around 250 staff in China, said the skills shortage was so severe that the company offered jobs to between 10% and 20% more candidates than they had jobs, as this number would accept job offers from other employers.

  • For more on logistics issues in China, see next month’s issue of Recruiter, out Friday, 17 May.

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