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Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Transportation & Warehousing Sector

by Stephen Sweet and Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes with Elyssa Besen, Shoghik Hovhannisyan, and Farooq Pasha

November 2010—More transportation and warehousing enterprises have projected retirement rates (34.6%) than employers in other sectors (23.1%), according to a new study by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work. However, fewer supervisors in this sector reportedly have the ability to anticipate staffing needs (42.3%) or have assessed competency sets of current employees (42.3%), compared to other sectors (51.1% and 50.6%, respectively).

Currently, the US transportation and warehousing sector is heavily reliant on a multi-generational workforce. In 2000, 15% of the employees in this sector were over age 55. From just 2000-2007, though, the percentage of workers aged 55-64 in the sector increased by about 33%, and the proportion of workers over age 65 increased by about 15%. Adding additional strain to potential talent losses within the sector, retirement payments as a percentage of compensation costs increased among transportation and warehousing organizations by about 10% over the period of 2004-2008.

Under pressure to locate and retain talented workers, employers in the transportation and warehousing sector reported a greater need for:

  • Basic literacy in writing and math—20% (compared to 17% in other sectors);
  • Customer relations skills—19.2% (compared to 18.9% in other sectors); and
  • Human resource skills—19.2% (compared to 18.1% in other sectors).

The most frequently cited concern among transportation and warehousing enterprises was being able to offer competitive pay and benefits (37.5%) as compared to other sectors (28.9%). Additional talent management issues of great concern to employers in the sector include:

  • Absenteeism—33.3% (compared to 25.1% in other sectors);
  • Employees' performance—29.2% (compared to 28.9% in other sectors);
  • Unwanted turnover—25% (compared to 21.9% in other sectors); and
  • Responding to employees' family needs—20.8% (compared to 12.8% in other sectors).


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