Workforce Advantages for Logistics Businesses at ‘the UK’s Multimodal Gateway’

UK Multimodal Gateway Essex

UK logistics businesses are expanding, and recruiting…

Expanding logistics businesses need people, with skillsThe UK’s logistics and distribution companies are back in expansion mode. According to 2015 (H1) research by Barclays, 80% of businesses expect turnover to increase in the 12 months from April 2015, and ‘over half of operators plan to increase headcount’. [1] 

This is the point at which recruitment and skills become pressing issues for logistics businesses – to enable both expansion and the successful implementation of new systems and technologies. The same survey highlights ‘driver shortage’ as the ‘single most important issue’ for 49% of logistics companies. Elsewhere, a recent UKCES report identifies serious logistics ‘skills gaps’ in areas including ‘planning and organisation’, ‘customer handling’ and communication’. [1] 

But which UK locations can deliver with logistics people and skills?

Essex is a major UK logistics hub, offering both the available sites and multimodal connectivity demanded by expanding logistics businesses. But can Essex deliver a ready logistics workforce, and the ‘skills pipeline’ required to replenish and up-skill that workforce?

To answer this question, here are some of the key facts and data on Essex’s available logistics workforce and skills infrastructure.

Logistics workforce availability in Essex, UK

Source: ONS [3]

The Essex borough of Thurrock is at the heart of the county’s ports and logistics cluster, being home to both London Gateway and Tilbury ports, large-scale portcentric logistics sites and a breadth of port and logistics services businesses.

This logistics ‘strength in depth’ is reflected in Thurrock’s workforce profile. As a percentage of total workforce, Thurrock has more workers in the important ‘Elementary Occupations’ category than either of its major UK deep sea port competitor locations – Felixstowe and Southampton. In the key ‘Transport and Storage’ category, Thurrock’s workforce is more than twice the size of that in each competitor location (as % of total).

Source: ONS [4]

Logistics businesses recruiting for ‘elementary’ roles such as warehouse operatives need an available pool of labour to draw on. Thurrock, Essex presents a significant advantage versus major central-UK logistics locations in terms of unemployed labour availability.

Logistics skills provision in Essex, UK

London Gateway Logistics ParkEssex’s logistics sector is expanding rapidly, with London Gateway Logistics Park alone projected to create 27,000 jobs [5]. Working in partnership with logistics businesses, Essex’s major education and skills providers have geared up accordingly.

From its new, £45 million Thurrock Campus, South Essex College is delivering vocational courses including a BTEC Level 3 diploma in Business, Logistics and Supply Chain. Essex Business School is similarly prepared, offering post-graduate courses across several supply chain and logistics specialisations.

These further and higher education capabilities are complemented by private sector skills provision in essential areas including driver training. Essex’s logistics cluster includes specialist driver training companies such as Road Train and RSM. 

In summary, Essex is delivering for expanding logistics businesses, both in terms of an available, work-ready labour force, and a highly developed logistics education and skills infrastructure.


Contact INVEST Essex to find out about support for you logistics business expansion in Essex, the UK’s Multimodal Gateway.

[1] The UK Logistics Confidence Index, H1 2015 – Barclays and Moore Stephens
[2] UKCES: Understanding Skills and Performance Challenges in the Logistics Sector, Oct 2014
[3] ONS: Annual population survey, 2014 (UK government)
[4] ONS: Business register and employment survey, 2013
[5] London Gateway

Robert Edge
Robert Edge

Inward Investment Manager (UK Multimodal Gateway:Essex)

+44 (0) 7740 179497


Following a ten year career with a major Colchester freight forwarder shipping everything from confectionery to oxygen plants, Robert has spent almost 15 years in inward investment promotion. Having had experience in China, India and the Middle East, Robert leads on the logistics and renewables sector.