This industry encompasses the coordinated movement of products through the supply chain by various means, ie road, rail, air and sea. Primary occupations include Freight Forwarders and Custom Brokers.
This industry is mostly made up of small to medium sized enterprises with approximately 1,500 people working within domestic and international freight forwarding services in WA. Industry has, however, indicated that this figure under-represents those actually working in the sector.
Given their susceptibility to fluctuating currencies and world markets, small family owned businesses operating in this space have small profit margins and have had to diversify in order to stay relevant.
Increased cargo movement in and around the State, driven by the mining sector, has resulted in more activity taking place within freight forwarding and customs brokering services.
Key external drivers for businesses are derived from the demand for merchandise imports and exports. This mainly comprises of oil, mining automotive and agricultural products and is susceptible to fluctuating world markets and oil prices. Western Australia accounts for 45 per cent of the country’s merchandise exports.
Despite a fall in activity over the past year, due to a slowdown in mining activity, employers remain relatively positive about the growth potential of the sector beyond 2014.
The movement of goods to the North West has brought about a rise in demand for project logistics to organise the transport of equipment and supplies. This involves the complex planning and shipment of a particular item(s) within a set timeframe.
The workforce for this sector is made up of 73 per cent men and 27 per cent women.
Of those working in this sector 0.3 per cent indicated that they had a need for assistance with core activities (people with disabilities) and migrant workers accounted for 31.5 per cent.
Statistics indicate that approximately 42 per cent of transport support service workers have no post school qualifications. 24 per cent have attained qualifications at certificate level, 13 per cent at diploma level and 17 per cent at tertiary level.
Although compliance with new licensing conditions regarding professional development for customs brokers is welcome, it is proving to be a financial challenge for small businesses with minimal profit margins.
The limited number of licences issued for Customs Brokers has placed significant cost and demand pressures on companies. As they are in high demand they have become expensive to hire and it is challenging for employers to successfully retain their services.
In WA there is an identified gap where there are no clearly defined pathways for establishing a career in International Freight Forwarding. It has not been easy for employers to attract new workers to the industry, particularly the younger age group.
Concern has been raised about the lack of infrastructure to support the logistics industry in regional areas, particularly Dampier in the North West, where operators find it difficult to coordinate the movement of goods.
The industry is struggling to entice younger workers with adequate skills and experience for the successful implementation of succession planning and transitioning of older workers.
As with many other industries, digitisation is taking place at an increasingly faster pace. Airlines, forwarders and handlers have to work together to expand e-freight networks and uphold the secure transport of freight in paperless environments.