Duncan Shepard | Open Colleges
Duncan Sheppard

Director of Communications and Policy at The Australian Logistics Council

Duncan Sheppard

"The transport and logistics industry is changing rapidly. Operators who stand still will become increasingly challenged for relevance."

The Australian Logistics Council represents the major Australian logistics supply chain customers, providers, infrastructure owners, and suppliers. Their members span the entire supply chain, incorporating road, rail, sea, air, sea ports, and intermodal ports.

ALC's focus on these four key issues recognises the importance of efficient supply chains to Australia's economic and social prosperity. High-performing supply chains, underpinned by consistent regulation, appropriate national infrastructure, and seamless information transfer across the freight logistics industry, enable the smooth flow of goods from production to consumption.

1 What is the Australian logistics industry like, how is it unique?

Australia's logistics industry is worth more than $130 billion dollars to the Australian economy, and represents in excess of 8.6% of Australia's GDP, making this sector one of the most critical in Australia. It plays an important strategic role in the supply chain of all industry sectors, and its success is a key factor in the nation's economic performance. The sector is the vital link between domestic and international trading partners.

2 What advice would you offer students looking to get into the logistics and supply chain management industry?

Information technology and customer demand are driving a more integrated approach to logistics management, with widespread use of real-time freight tracking through electronic monitoring and messaging systems installed in transport vehicles. Because of this trend, prospective employees looking to get into the industry need to have a strong interest and a commitment to train in the use of new equipment and technologies.

3 What are the top three things employers are looking for in a logistics professional?

A commitment to customer service, safe working practices, and continuous learning to keep abreast of changes in technology.

4 What are some of the upcoming trends in logistics?

The 2014 Environmental Scan, undertaken by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council, identified the following occupations as being in skill demand:

  • Import-export clerk - for customs brokers and freight-forwarding operators

  • Store assistant / warehouse assistant

  • Forklift driver

  • Container forklift driver (including reach stacker)

  • Workplace training and assessor - transport industry-specific

  • Warehouse administrator / warehouse manager

  • Transport and logistics manager (supply chain management, Procurement, inventory management, distribution management)
  • 5 How has the logistics industry changed over recent years in Australia?

    The growth of online shopping, resulting in the bypassing of traditional supply chains, presents both opportunities and challenges for the logistics industry. As e-commerce logistics models continue to grow, physical distribution networks will also undergo change. Trips will be shorter, delivery vans smaller, and new technologies will underpin the transfer of information up and down the supply chain.

    6 What's the secret to staying relevant in the industry?

    The transport and logistics industry is changing rapidly. Operators who stand still will become increasingly challenged for relevance. Major logistics companies are continually assessing changes in the marketplace to better understand how to structure their supply chains to meet customer demand. An example of this is a recent announcement by a major Australian logistics firm to build an intermodal facility on the western fringe of Sydney, which will be a smaller, high-velocity intermodal terminal that leverages existing infrastructure to service freight owners where they have significant existing operations.

    7 Anything else you would like to add?

    Studies show that women make up only about 20 percent of the workforce in the transport, logistics, and warehousing sectors. Across Australia's transport and logistics industry, women in managerial positions statistically fall behind all other sectors.

    Globally, Australia ranks poorly when compared to other western countries, according to figures provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It is clear there needs to be a greater focus by industry and government to encourage, support, and retain women in the industry. We need to ensure that the logistics industry has the best possible talent working across all parts of the supply chain. It is an issue that the ALC is determined to take a leadership role on.

    As a first step, ALC organised the first Women in Logistics Summit in Melbourne in November 2015. The summit reflects ALC's commitment to encourage greater diversity within the logistics industry. The summit discussed and mapped a series of strategies ALC will adopt to encourage more women into the industry, to widen the recruitment pool, and to help bring a new perspective to the industry.

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