Logistics sector needs 18,000 workers by 2028

With a critical labour shortage in New Zealand’s freight and logistics sector, Competenz Te Pūkenga (Te Pūkenga) hopes to attract new learners to the industry through its diverse logistics training across its network.


Te Pūkenga offers more than 35 pathways into logistics sector careers, including supply chain and management qualifications, freight and shipping logistics, rail and marine operations, international freight, airport operations and commercial road transport. It’s these pathways that Te Pūkenga hopes will attract young people into the industry in time to address the critical labour shortage.


Research conducted in May 2023 by Hanga-Aro-Rau, the Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics Workforce Development Council, identified that the logistics sector will have a shortage of 18,000 workers within the next five years. Te Pūkenga National Ako Director Manufacturing Logistics Engineering Mike Crossan says immediate intervention is needed, or the implications for New Zealand’s economy are dire.


“The importance of logistics services across the economy and industries cannot be understated. Future economic growth will be constrained if the worker shortage is not addressed. So New Zealand needs to invest in initiatives and training programmes to attract new people to the industry. We’d also like to see businesses offering competitive wages and benefits to attract and retain talent. The shortage of skilled workers disrupts the smooth flow of goods and leads to delays, inefficiencies and increased costs.


“Logistics is a great career option, and today’s logistics industry needs well-organised people with excellent analytical, communication and negotiation skills. By addressing the worker shortage with a comprehensive training offering, Te Pūkenga hopes to strengthen NZ’s logistics infrastructure to maintain its position as a key player in the global marketplace.”'

Samantha McNaughton, deputy chief executive of Hanga-Aro-Rau, says the logistics industry acts as a critical enabler and lynchpin in the economy, intersecting and supporting the growth of every other sector in some way.

“The logistics sector covers the movement of goods throughout our national and international supply chains - including order processing, inventory management and distribution across our air, sea and land ports. This research identifies several systemic issues facing logistics firms and calls for the immediate introduction of an industry-wide strategic approach to reduce barriers to training. It also shows that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of automation within logistics firms as they attempt to mitigate the international impact of skilled labour shortages.

“Rather than reducing the size of the workforce, these new technologies are changing the nature of the roles within the industry and are creating opportunities to grow through a more gender and culturally diverse workforce as well as facilitating the entry of more disabled workers into the sector for the first time.”


Te Pūkenga offers over 60 qualifications in the logistics and transport sectors, including a Graduate Diploma in Supply Chain and Shipping Management, New Zealand Diploma in Aviation and New Zealand Certificate in International Freight Logistics.


Upskilling people in logistics is proving good for business. Bidfood in Queenstown is a distribution business with 120 staff operating two warehouses 24/7. Deciding to upskill a group of employees in advanced distribution and management has seen a measurable return on investment.


Bidfood Queenstown HR Manager Carolyn Terpstra says the group studied toward various qualifications, including the National Certificate in Distribution Levels 2 and 3 and the New Zealand Certificate in Business (First Line Management) Level 4 through provider ServiceIQ.


“We can quantify improvements in productivity and efficiencies over the past 12 months as a direct result of the logistics knowledge our employees have gained. As the group has applied their fresh new skills, the business has celebrated around 10% growth, increased customer satisfaction, skilled and experienced people are staying longer with a 23% decrease in staff turnover, operational pinch-points have significantly reduced, there have been fewer injuries, and employee confidence and job satisfaction is up


“These remarkable results are largely due to the team increasing its industry expertise and business acumen through their qualification programmes,” said Terpstra.