The global supply chain is facing a labor shortage that has slowed down manufacturing and shipping times. As a result, prices continue to rise and economic stagnation has gotten worse. While every position along the supply chain could use a helping hand, these 10 positions most direly need more skilled laborers.
1. Entry-Level Warehouse Worker
Warehouse workers might be the smallest links in the supply chain, but they are the most needed positions by a longshot. The warehousing sector is on pace to experience 2.1 million unoccupied jobs by 2030 in the United States alone. Meanwhile, declining working-age populations in Europe and Asia are creating millions more warehousing vacancies. Warehouse workers do most of the manual labor that keeps the economy going, including sorting, packing, labeling and shipping various essential goods.
2. Truck Driver
While warehouse workers take care of the in-house operations, truck drivers are on the road keeping the supply chain moving. This position faces a shortage of 2.6 million drivers in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Mexico and Argentina as of 2022. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s the entire foundation of ground freight shipping and the global economy needs more truckers to get back up to speed.
3. Storage Manager
Storage managers oversee every step in the supply chain. They manage raw material acquisition, production, warehousing and shipping. The economy needs more capable storage managers to ensure products leave their warehouses and reach their destinations at the right time.
In a 2022 survey from Alcott Global, 64% of companies from various countries said they struggled to find supply chain talent with the appropriate skill set. Storage managers and other upper-level positions have the greatest need for a talent boost due to their wide-ranging responsibilities.
4. Supply Chain Analyst
Supply chain analysts are data scientists studying supply chain operations and finding ways to streamline logistics processes. They are essential for eliminating costly errors and making supply chains more efficient.
This job requires a high level of technical knowledge, which means you can expect to see big job growth in major cities with good tech centers. This growth won’t just happen in the U.S. — London, Amsterdam, Zurich, Toronto, Shanghai, Seoul and many other global cities have growing tech sectors that could restore the talent shortage in this position.
5. Logistics Coordinator
Logistics coordinators oversee the storage and distribution of goods, which includes fleet management, inventory management, operator training and order fulfillment. They work in more hands-on roles beneath storage managers, constantly communicating with various departments.
This position needs more strong communicators to keep businesses running smoothly. Unemployment rates are at a 15-year low in the logistics sector, but the talent pool is shrinking worldwide. Many remaining logistics coordinators say their responsibilities are increasing to compensate for the missing labor.
6. Transport Manager
Transport managers focus specifically on fleet optimization. They uphold safety and efficiency standards by making sure that vehicles are well-maintained, have capable operators, and meet their delivery deadlines. If they do their jobs correctly, they can increase operational efficiency by 45% and minimize costly delays.
7. Supply Technician
Supply technicians are responsible for installing and maintaining warehouse equipment that keeps the supply chain running. This position will become more and more important as automated supply chain equipment continues to advance. Automated and semi-automated devices could replace many of the aforementioned missing warehouse workers around the world.
8. Purchasing Agent
Purchasing agents monitor inventories and place orders for their organizations. They are the company ambassadors and negotiators who form supplier relationships and study the market for potential new deals. This position is crucial for small businesses that are trying to expand their client bases.
Employment for this position is on pace to decline by 6% from 2022 to 2032 in the U.S., while countries in Europe and Asia are experiencing a similar decline due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. High costs for energy, raw materials, shipping, storage and labor have made the position of purchasing agent much less desirable.
9. Project Manager
Project managers are assigned to specific projects within a company’s overall supply chain operations. They have a wide range of responsibilities, from adjusting organizational strategies to upgrading warehouse equipment as necessary. The supply chain needs more people in this highly versatile position. Based on current projections, the world will need an estimated 25 million new project managers by 2030.
10. Production Scheduler
Production schedulers are all about optimizing a fleet or warehouse’s daily operations, from employee hours to equipment maintenance to packaging and labeling strategies. They often work closely with logistics coordinators and storage managers, which makes them key links in a company’s chain of command.
The Supply Chain Needs More of Everything
While these are the top 10 positions with the most pressing labor shortages, the supply chain needs more of everything. The Great Resignation that occurred from 2020 to 2022 affected every job, from the average warehouse worker to high-ranking executives. It will take years to plug in the labor gaps, but companies should start with these 10 positions.
Rose Morrison is the managing editor of Renovated.com, and has over 5 years of writing experience in the industry. Her work has been featured on The National Association of Realtors, the American Society of Home Inspectors, and other reputable publications. For more from Rose, you can follow her on X.